By Laurel Neme
Part 3 of 3
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is often hailed by scholars and conservationists as the most effective international environmental agreement. On March 3, CITES celebrates its 40th anniversary. What accounts for its success? In the following interview, CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon reflects on the convention’s strengths and weaknesses.
According to Scanlon, one of CITES’s main strengths is that it’s well-drafted, with clear objectives and guidance on achieving those objectives. Further, CITES parties have done an excellent job in “filling in the blanks” over the years and created a body of resolutions and decisions that explain and guide implementation of the convention text.
“It’s a living, breathing convention,” Scanlon says. “It’s one that has been able to evolve from a good base.”
However, CITES still faces significant challenges. Most notably, CITES lacks its own financial mechanism for implementation. Unlike other international agreements, with CITES member states contribute their own resources for implementation. This and other aspects of the convention will be discussed at CITES 16th Conference of Parties (CoP16) which will take place in Bangkok, Thailand from March 3-14.
The following interview with CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon explores in depth the elephant and rhino issues on the CITES CoP16 agenda. It was transcribed by Kirstin Fagan. To listen to it in its entirety, please visit: www.laurelneme.com/wildliferadio. For more on CITES and the upcoming meeting, see: www.cites.org.
REFLECTIONS ON CITES’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY
Laurel Neme: Given that CITES will celebrate its 40th anniversary in March, what are some of your reflections about this convention?
John Scanlon: The 40th anniversary is a good time to reflect, and to look at strengths and weaknesses, what’s worked, what hasn’t. Overall, looking back on forty years, in the context of international agreements, [CITES\ has been one of the most effective, if not the most effective, international agreement, in terms of dealing with environmental issues. More....