GENEVA (AP) — Seven nations may lose their ability to legally trade tens of thousands of wildlife species after U.N. conservation delegates agreed Thursday to sanction them for lacking tough regulations or failing to report on their wildlife trade.
The suspensions against the seven nations — Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Paraguay, Nepal, Rwanda, Solomon Islands and Syria — would take effect Oct. 1.
They would prevent the countries from legally trading in any of the 35,000 species regulated by the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, said Juan Carlos Vasquez, a spokesman for the U.N. office that administers the treaty.
Delegations to the weeklong meeting of CITES, a treaty overseen by the U.N. Environment Program in Geneva, agreed to trade suspensions against Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Paraguay and Rwanda based on their lack of national laws for regulating the lucrative wildlife trade.
The multibillion-dollar illegal trade in wildlife is a growing problem, and environmentalists say a big reason is nations' failure to enact stiff penalties for traffickers or enforce wildlife laws already on the books.
The Geneva meeting's attendees also agreed to trade suspensions against Guinea-Bissau, Nepal, Rwanda, Solomon Islands and Syria based on their failure to adequately report what they are doing to regulate wildlife trade, as they are required to do under the CITES treaty.
To avoid the sanctions, and the prospect of losing millions of dollars in commerce, the seven must now draw up the required legislation or submit their missing annual reports to CITES by Oct. 1.
The delegates are expected to consider on Friday a more controversial topic: a call to resume the legal ivory trade as a way to stop the recent rise in elephant poaching in Africa.
That proposal, put forward in a CITES-commissioned report, would set up a centralized system to allow for the sale of ivory from elephants that either died naturally or as a result of trophy hunting, or were considered a threat or culled for ecological reasons.
It is the first time such a proposal has been made since a global ban on ivory went into effect in 1989. That ban mostly halted widespread poaching, but in the past decade the problem has worsened owing mainly to an Asian appetite for ivory chopsticks, statues and jewelry.
The rise in rhino poaching also is on the agenda.
Casey reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.