FONDATION FRANZ WEBER CALLS OUT THE CITES SECRETARIAT ON ITS POSITION ON COVID-19As global governments and institutions scramble to contain the current pandemic, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), seems to have absolved itself from any responsibility in relation to COVID-19. For Fondation Franz Weber (FFW), this lack of accountability is unacceptable. The Swiss NGO sent an open letter to the CITES Secretary-General, asking for a clear message to consumers around the world.
CITES’s mandate is to oversee the international trade of wild species. Yet 10 days ago, the CITES Secretariat announced that: “Matters regarding zoonotic diseases are outside of CITES’s mandate, and therefore the CITES Secretariat does not have the competence to make comments regarding the recent news on the possible links between human consumption of wild animals and COVID-19”. Of all the UN multilateral conventions, it is the CITES rules and enforcement legislation that ought to play a major role in the current crisis and in combatting future zoonotic diseases. The Secretariat, therefore, cannot afford to dismiss the pandemic and its origins as outside its mandate, or simply as ‘media commentary’ or speculate as to a ‘possible link’ of the disease to wildlife consumption. They must acknowledge that trade, consumption and detention of wildlife is linked to these epidemics and that it is their responsibility as a wildlife trade convention to do something about it. “In an unprecedented crisis such as this, CITES cannot be seen to adhere to a ‘business as usual’ principle, especially since such a principle (trade in wildlife) is in direct contrast with global efforts to curb COVID-19 and future pandemics”, explains Vera Weber, President of FFW. “CITES must take its responsibility and send a clear message to consumer around the world: that wildlife trade is in direct relation to epidemics such as the one we are now all facing”.
CITES Secretariat’s statement in relation to COVID-19 : https://www.cites.org/eng/CITES_Secretariat_statement_in_relation_to_COVID19
Open letter from Fondation Franz Weber (FFW) to the CITES Secretariat