Botswana And Zimbabwe Challenge COP Voting Rules

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In their bid to stop the planned up listing of elephants in Southern African countries from Appendix II to Appendix I proposal, Botswana and Zimbabwe have moved to propose for the amendment of the voting procedure of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The conference that is scheduled to take place in Panama from November14-25, 2022 will decide on the proposal made by some Western African States for the up-listing. Should the countries be successful in their bid for the up listing, this will prohibit any commercial trade in live elephants and ivory in Southern African countries.

Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organisation (NCONGO) Director Siyoka Simasiku has revealed that the proposed amendment by the two countries specifically speaks to Rule 26 which is about the right to vote.

According to him, the countries have suggested for COP to assign a number of votes per representative of the party proportionate to the population size of the species under discussion.

“Countries currently lobbying for the ban of elephant hunting and ivory trading have lower to no elephant populations, this is unfair as such countries are determining the voting outcomes on issues whose impacts do not affect them in any way,” Simasiku said in a press briefing.

He posited that countries which have an overabundant population beyond ecological carrying capacity of specific species listed under either appendix I or II have been victims of the current voting procedures removing incentives to conserve such species.

Simasiku criticised that voting rules are currently not assisting in addressing conservation challenges and implications on affected parties, including local communities. He strongly believes that countries whose ecosystems and human lives are suffering due overabundance of these species or animals should have a bigger voice in decision making and this should be reflected in having more votes.

He revealed that NCONGO through Community Leaders Network of Southern Africa is currently lobbying for engagement and recognition of indigenous people and local communities in formal inclusions such as CITES COP for their voices to be heard. 

Meanwhile Simasiku revealed that European Union countries have also at the ended African Wildlife Consultative Forum which was held in Mozambique last week proposed for the ban of elephant hunting and ivory trading.

He noted that this move by EU is lessening the chances of SADC states in succeeding on their bid to avoid the up list to Appendix I. This he said is because some of the Western African countries are also among those lobbying against elephant hunting and ivory trading.

“At this stage Botswana should start looking at other market where it can continue with trade should SADC fail in their bid to stop its elephants being up listed to appendix I,” Simasiku suggested.

He has however applauded government on its agro-tourism move to allow citizen to keep game animals in fields (masimo) indicating that the move itself will help create wildlife markets for Botswana.

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