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Alarm at secret meetings on ivory trade

Civil society being excluded from discussions at UN Convention

GENEVA: Conservation groups have reacted with dismay and disgust after being forced out of a crucial session on elephants and the ivory trade at the UN CITES Convention, currently taking place in Geneva.

The NGOs were removed following a vote in the Standing Committee. The UK, USA and Australia all opposed the move. At one point the European Commission was even asked to leave before being allowed back as an exception on the request of the UK Government.

The move comes as China is facing a barrage of criticism for failing to clamp down on its illegal ivory trade, raising suspicions that it may have been behind the exclusion.

Investigations by NGOs have repeatedly shown that illegal ivory trade in China continues, and that the price of illegal ivory remains high ¬despite the controversial sale of stockpiled ivory to Japan and China from African countries in 2008.

‘The sale of stockpiled ivory was supposed to flood the market and reduce poaching, but it has failed. China is unable or unwilling to control its illegal ivory market, and two independent reports have confirmed this. Countries are keeping the NGOs out to hide their incompetence and avoid awkward questions,’ said Mary Rice, Executive Director of the Environmental Investigation Agency.

‘The concern is that this pattern will be repeated in other areas, such as rhino or tiger conservation. This lack of transparency breeds corruption and is indicative of wider problems with CITES. The convention is being allowed to fade into obscurity rather than deal with tough issues, and the world¹s wildlife will pay the price’, said Rice.

1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses.

2. Interviews are available on request by contacting
or calling Mary Rice +44 7810 640532. The EIA office can be reached on +44 354 7960 .

Environmental Investigation Agency