Prevent Sri Lanka hosting CITES Conference 2019
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Sri Lanka Violates the Spirit of CITES
The Government of Sri Lanka is a signatory to the CITES Convention - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
CITES is an international agreement between governments which aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention are known as Parties. CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention.
The Government of Sri Lanka signed the CITES Convention in 1978 and it was ratified in 1979. By ratifying the Convention, the Government of Sri Lanka accepts that it will be bound by the convention.
The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.
Appendix I, which provides the most protection, includes species threatened with extinction. The Asian Elephant (Elephas Maximus) is listed in Appendix I, which lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants. Such species are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research.
As a signatory to CITES, the Government of Sri Lanka accepts that the Asian Elephant found in Sri Lanka is a species that is threatened with extinction and that there should be no international trade of the species. Although CITES does not apply to domestic trade of species, any country that is a signatory to CITES accepts the principle that trade in the species, especially species listed in Appendix I, contributes towards the extinction of the species.
Yet, recent events have shown that the Government of Sri Lanka is in the process of legitimizing illegal trade in elephants captured from the wild. Although a signatory to CITES, this shows that the Government of Sri Lanka is in clear violation of the spirit of CITES. Sri Lankan elephants are an endangered species, precariously close to extinction.
Currently legal action is underway to rescue 33 baby elephants captured from the wild for use in traditional parades.
The recent video "33 Elephants" documents the kidnapping, trade and abuse of these baby elephants.
Recently a deputy minister in the Sri Lankan government suggested the country's laws should be amended to rear elephants as pets and surplus wild-elephants should be sold to other countries to control the elephant population.
This statement speaks to the dismissive attitude of government officials with regard to the protection of endangered species.
Should a country that does not believe in the spirit of CITES, and which is involved in and supportive of illicit trade of an endangered species host the next Conference of Parties scheduled for 2019?
The international community must seriously consider the appropriateness of Sri Lanka hosting CITES under the above mentioned conditions.
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