New push to close domestic ivory markets at CITES CoP
In a major boost to efforts to close the world's remaining domestic ivory markets, countries at CITES CoP17 called on nations where there is a legal domestic ivory market that is contributing to illegal trade to take all necessary legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures to close their markets as a matter of urgency.
“Countries have said loud and clear that legal ivory markets should no longer provide a cover for the massive illegal trade driving the decline of Africa’s elephants,” said Ginette Hemley, WWF Head of CITES delegation. “Domestic ivory markets allow organized crime syndicates to launder poached ivory through legal trade, and perpetuates the consumer demand driving the elephant poaching crisis.
The non-binding decision was eventually adopted by consensus after hours of debate in closed door working groups. It does recognize that narrow exemptions for some ivory items may be warranted, but that such exemptions should not contribute to poaching or illegal trade.
“The decision here at CITES gives a huge boost to recent calls to close domestic ivory markets worldwide, as countries from across the globe have now given their stamp of approval,” added Hemley
In particular, China’s clear support for the decision to close domestic markets demonstrates significant progress. It has already committed to phasing out its large domestic market and clearly believes others should follow suit.
“To affirm its leadership on this issue, China must now put in place a firm timeline to close its domestic market as soon as possible. This would send an even more unmistakable signal to the world’s other major markets,” said Hemley.
One of the other large markets is in Thailand, which has taken significant steps to regulate its domestic ivory market since the start of 2015. However, WWF believes that the best long-term approach for Thailand and other key ivory consumer countries is to close their markets entirely and focus enforcement efforts on tackling the illegal ivory trade.
“Today’s decision gives countries a clear mandate – shutter domestic ivory markets and fully join the fight to save the world’s elephants,” said Hemley.