Parliament yesterday voted to approve Lebanon joining the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
175 countries have joined the convention, with Lebanon, Iraq and Bahrain the only Middle Eastern countries not yet part. An article in June reported that the King of Bahrain issued a law ratifying their country’s decision to join.
Animals Lebanon was invited to the 15th Conference of the Parties in Qatar in 2010 to participate in a meeting between the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary General of CITES. The Minister expressed his intention to have Lebanon join and asked that NGOs continue to make an issue out of this, keep it in the media, and make sure that it is not forgotten.
We also worked with the European Commission holding a national conference to stress the importance of protecting more than 30,000 species of endangered animals and plants, and trained other activists interested in advocating for CITES.
Sadly, the smuggling of animals in recent years also kept this issue in the public's attention. Lion cubs were being smuggled from Syria for the exotic pet trade, a shipment of parrots were confiscated in Bulgaria after being exported from Lebanon. The various chimpanzees, tigers, and other highly endangered animals found throughout the country gave an urgency to join the convention and enact national legislation to enforce it.
It was one of the last days of 2009 when we met with the Minister of Agriculture about a circus that had transported animals in horrible conditions and did not meet the requirements of CITES.
As Lebanon had not joined the convention there was very little action that the Ministry could take, but importantly it gave us the ability to urge the Minister to make joining CITES a priority. More....