22/03/12:Minister Deenihan opens Meeting of the UN Convention on Trade in Endangered Species in Dublin (CITES)
Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht today (Thursday 22nd March, 2012) officially opened the joint meetings of the Animals and Plants Committees of CITES in the Convention Centre, Dublin which is being attended by over 150 delegates from various countries and international conservation organisations.
CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora, is a United Nations agreement. Its aim is to ensure thatinternational trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
The Minister thanked the Secretary General of CITES, Mr. John Scanlon, for inviting him to open these two important meetings. The Minister noted that it was not usual for these scientific meetings to be held outside of Geneva, the Headquarters of CITES, so Ireland was extremely pleased to be in a position to host these meetings.
The Minister noted that the CITES Convention was adopted in the 1970s in order to regulate the cross border trade in endangered wild animals and plants. “Today, there are degrees of protection afforded to more than 30,000 species of animals and plants. There are now some 175 countries which are parties to the Convention which is a great achievement for an international conservation agreement,” said Minister Deenihan.
The Minister commented on the changing world environment since CITES was founded in the 1970s. “Many things have changed in the world since the 1970s, not least the enormous increase in the volume of worldwide trade and the global economy that we now live in. We have also seen, in this period, the loss of thousands of animal and plant species from the face of the earth. This only underlines the need for conventions such as CITES Convention in order to protect the planets rich and divergent plant and animal life through sustainable trade,” continued the Minister.
The Minister made particular reference to the recent increase in the illegal trade in rhino horns which he said again highlighted the difficulty in protecting one of the planets most recognisable wild animals. The Minister commented “Regrettably, the demand for rhino horn for use in traditional medicine in some parts of the world has led to an increase in the poaching of the species in southern Africa. We have also seen thieves stealing rhino horn exhibits from a number of museums around Europe,” said the Minister. Many museums in Europe have had to take the precaution of removing their rhino horn exhibits from public display, including our own Natural History Museum in Dublin recently.
Finally, the Minister thanked a number of organisations who provided support and assistance which has allowed the hosting of these meetings especially the United States Fish and Wildlife Service who provided substantial funding for the joint meeting of the Animals and Plants Committee.
In conclusion, the Minister said “ I know the delegates here at these meetings are aware of the complexities involved in selecting species that require protection, the degree to which trade should be allowed and the effects of trade bans on the livelihoods of people in range states. I wish you all well in your discussions in Dublin during this week”.