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India’s abstains in CITES vote on reop

  Dec 05, 2022

India’s abstains in CITES vote on reopening Ivory Trade

Q. Why is this in news?
A. India’s decision not to vote against a proposal to re-open the international trade in ivory at the ongoing conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Q. What is CITES?


  • CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • It is as an international agreement aimed at ensuring “that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival”.
  • It was drafted after a resolution was adopted at a meeting of the members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1963.
  • It entered into force on July 1, 1975, and now has 183 parties.
  • The Convention is legally binding on the Parties in the sense that they are committed to implementing it; however, it does not take the place of national laws.
  • India is a signatory to and has also ratified CITES convention in 1976.

Q. What are CITES Appendices?


  • CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls.
  • All import, export, re-exports and introduction from the sea of species covered by the convention has to be authorized through a licensing system.

It has three appendices:

  • Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade-in specimens of these species are permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
  • Appendix II provides a lower level of protection.
  • Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling trade.

Q. What is the news?


  • India remained absent during the CITES conference aimed to re-open the international trade in ivory.

Q. Why such move by India?


  • Elephant remains one of India’s most powerful cultural and religious symbols.
  • A pioneer in banning even the domestic trade in ivory in 1986, India has always been at the forefront of global elephant conservation initiatives.

Q. What is the tussle over Ivory?


  • The international ivory trade was globally banned in 1989 when all African elephant populations were put in CITES Appendix I.
  • However, the populations of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe were transferred to Appendix II in 1997, and South Africa’s in 2000 to allow two “one-off sales”.
  • This is because ivory stockpiled from natural elephant deaths and seizures from poachers.
  • Subsequently, Namibia’s proposal for allowing a regular form of controlled trade in ivory by delisting the elephant populations of the four countries from Appendix II was rejected at CoP17 (2016) and CoP18 (2019).
  • At the ongoing CoP19, the proposal was moved by Zimbabwe but met the same fate.
  • These are low income countries often battling to generate some revenue from Ivory trade.

India and ivory trade

  • The endangered Asian elephant was included in CITES Appendix I in 1975, which banned the export of ivory from the Asian range countries.
  • In 1986, India amended The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to ban even domestic sales of ivory.
  • After the ivory trade was globally banned, India again amended the law to ban the import of African ivory in 1991.
  • In 1981 when New Delhi hosted COP3, India designed the iconic CITES logo in the form of an elephant.
  • Over the years, India’s stand has been unequivocal on the ivory issue.

Q. What has changed now?

  • After protracted negotiation, India signed an agreement in July with Namibia to fly in cheetahs.
  • India has agreed to promote “sustainable utilisation and management of biodiversity” by supporting advances in this area of bilateral cooperation “at international forums including meetings of” CITES.
  • While the word “ivory” was not mentioned, Namibia sought India’s support under this agreement.