Process for Establishing Future Ivory Trade Rejected at CITES Conference

For the last nine years, CITES parties have been negotiating a “decision-making mechanism,” (DMM), which would establish a process for a future trade in ivory. Today, the parties of CITES voted to end the long-running discussion.

The notion of a DMM was established at CoP14 in 2007 as part of a compromise that put in place a nine-year moratorium on the international ivory trade. Namibia and several other countries agreed to the moratorium back then so long as a DMM was established.

Since then, the development of the DMM has only become more controversial as the poaching crisis escalated. There has been a net decline of approximately 110,000 African elephants from 2007 through 2015, according to a report released yesterday.

Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe put forward a proposal at this week’s CoP17 conference in Johannesburg calling for the DMM to be established. A group of eight other African states put forward a counter-proposal calling for the discussions to be abandoned. Both proposals were rejected; the former by a secret ballot.

A third vote, on a proposal put forward by the CITES Standing Committee itself asking the parties to decide on whether DMM discussions should be extended, was rejected. That was the final word—the DMM is off the table.

It’s yet to be seen how Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe will respond. In their proposal calling for the establishment of the DMM, they essentially threaten to pull out of the ivory trade moratorium if DMM discussions are ended.

“It was on the basis of [establishing] this DMM that Namibia and others agreed to the moratorium,” said the Namibian representative during debate before the vote.

But the debate isn’t over yet: Later this week, CITES will be debating two other proposals from Namibia and Zimbabwe that could revive the ivory trade.

  • Nicky able

    Please stop the madness!!

  • Patty H

    Elephants can survive only if the ivory trade is totally banned forever and poaching ended quickly. Please save the elephants from extinction due to greed!!!!

  • Sheila Kraus

    The greedy governments who do not want to help their people move forward in life think it is okay for illegal Ivory and Rhino horn to be used as their opportunity to make money to live. If these governments do not change and stop this deviant thinking and action their countries will be boycotted by other countries and people of the world forever in the area of tourism and financial support!!! Wake up and stop this EVIL Ivory and Horn trade to Chinese countries!!!! STOP IT NOW!!!

  • Dutch Gibson

    Which madness can be stopped? The future survival of elephants cannot be assured unless there is sufficient support to make control mechanisms effective. Sustainability can only be assured where “support” is based on sound financial principles. Charitable contributions from do-gooders have failed over recent decades – the only successful conservation interventions which are financially sustainable exist where there is a value on elephant products- It is empty fallacious thinking to leave the future survival of elephant populations to the whims of tree huggers and their ilk

  • Pauline

    The madness is thinking that banning a legal ivory trade will stop poaching. It hasn’t so far, why will anything change. As Albert Einstein said “Insanity: is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”
    Banning a legal ivory sale (of ivory collected primarily from animals that died naturally) simply makes the commodity more rare and hikes up the price, making illegal trade more lucrative.

  • liliane giger

    the world have to protect the elephant Habitat.

  • martin annandale


  • Patricia Allsop

    Only a complete ban will stop this slaughter!

  • Rob Stubbs

    You really cannot have legal trade in an endangered species. Does that increase price ? maybe, but only because fewer elephants have been killed and there’s less ivory in the system – which is surely still a massive win ?

  • Emmy

    Hello guys, I can’t help but put this out there, both sides have equally valid points. To keep it illegal to preserve the rhinos or to get rid of their defence to save their kind. There are currently only 2 white rhinos left both are male, in which once they die there will be no more White rhinos. There are only around 500 black rhinos left in the world, their numbers decreasing rapidly as habitat loss and poaching continues. It is sad to think our children may never have a chance to see rhinos in the wild. Legalizing the horn trade drops the worth of the horns and takes the thrill out of the poaching, while supporting rhino ranching. Rhino ranching takes care of young rhinos and raises them in a safe area while removing the horn to prevent the poachers for having a reason to kill them. While legalizing the horn trade might save the rhinos and stop poachers it allows ranchers to make a profit off saving rhinos. Taking the horn prevents the rhino from self defence, though I am sure a charging rhino would scare even a hungry lion. I have heard theories that removing the horn of a rhino at a young age and raising them like that improves the rhino’s vision. And sadly the current system in place isn’t helping the rhinos it seems to have almost put a price on rhinos. I am sorry to say but in order to keep our beloved rhinos from turning up like our unlucky white rhinos, we must make a change.

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