Following my messages and the updates of the Secretariat dated 21 April, 26 April, 3 May, 10 May and 17 May, where we expressed our compassion for the people of Sri Lanka for the impacts of the heinous acts committed in their country on 21 April 2019, announced the postponement of the meeting and the process in which the Secretariat engaged to address as soon as possible the delay in carrying out the 18th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, I wish to confirm the new dates and venue of the meeting to Parties and Observers:
The 71st meeting of the CITES Standing Committee, the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties and the 72nd meeting of the CITES Standing Committee will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 16 to 28 August 2019 at the following address:
Centre de Congrès
Route François-Peyrot 30
The 71st meeting of the CITES Standing Committee will take place on 16 August and the opening ceremony of CITES CoP 18 will take place on 17 August.
This conclusion was reached after a consultation process with the CITES Standing Committee where they expressed their security and other concerns, and after careful consideration of the report of the mission of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security to Sri Lanka to assess the security situation on the ground, and discussions with the Sri Lankan government.
The choice of the new venue is in line with the affirmation of the Parties in Resolution Conf. 17.2 on Financing and the costed programme of work for the Secretariat for the triennium 2017-2019.
There is no doubt that this extraordinary situation in which the Convention and the Secretariat find themselves requires sacrifices to adjust to the consequences of the decision to change venue and dates. The aim of many of the Standing Committee Members was to ensure that the meeting would take place as soon as possible to take the decisions needed to address sustainability of trade in wildlife. As you may imagine, there will be a need to mobilise resources in order to have a CoP with the full range of facilities to which you are accustomed. Consequently, we are requesting access to resources available in the Trust Fund reserve to have a very simple CoP but if the Parties wish to enjoy an automated voting system, modern technologies such as screens and other audiovisual equipment, etc., there will be a need to raise funds from the Parties to the Convention. Later this week I plan to send out a request for funding with an estimated budget and kindly ask the Parties for a generous contribution, so we can secure all that is needed in good time for the meeting.
I close by expressing, first, my heartfelt gratitude for the Government of Sri Lanka for their understanding in this most difficult moment in the history of the Convention. It has been a very distressing time for all concerned. I also wish to express my appreciation to the Members of the Standing Committee and all Parties for their support and patience with my team and myself during these past weeks. My apologies to Observers that it has taken a little time to make this final announcement; however, as you know, we must follow United Nations practices to ensure the process is fair and transparent for all Parties to the Convention. The CITES Secretariat team remains focused and energised to ensure a successful and impactful 18th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties. I am immensely grateful to each one of them for their dedication, hard work and support during these past weeks.
I very much look forward to welcoming you to Geneva.
The Notification to the Parties on this matter is now available at https://cites.org/sites/default/files/notif/E-Notif-2019-033_0.pdf.