Plenary session marks the beginning of the end of CITES CoP19

Plenary session marks the beginning of the end of CITES CoP19

Thursday, 24 November 2022, marks the beginning of the final plenary sessions of CITES CoP19. After 1 1/2 weeks of intensive discussions on 52 Proposals to amend the Appendices and numerous agenda items, the two Committees established under the Rules of Procedure of the Conference (RoPs) of the Parties (CoP) have tabled recommendations for adoption or rejection which now need to be confirmed by the Plenary.

According to Rule 7 of the RoPs, Committee I “shall be responsible for making recommendations to the Conference on all proposals to amend the Appendices of the Convention and on any matter of a primarily biological nature” while Committee II “shall act similarly in relation to all other matters to be decided upon by the Conference.” In practice, apart from the Proposals to amend the Appendices, Committee I also discussed matters relating to the criteria to amend the Appendices, quotas related to leopards or non-detriment findings. Committee II, on the other hand, concerned implementation, enforcement, financial, administrative and other governance matters.

While it is likely that the Plenary will adopt the recommendations by the Committees, which has concluded and closed the discussions on the different agenda items, there are still issues that have remained controversial. It is therefore not unlikely that some agenda items will still be discussed in the Plenary session. In order to do so, however, also the RoPs need to be followed. Based on Rule 21, each Party has the possibility to table a motion open the debate on a specific agenda item in Plenary, as long as it is supported by a second Party. The permission to speak is then granted to this Party and the seconder, as well as two Parties in opposition to this motion. After these interventions, the motion to open the debate must be supported by 1/3 of Parties.

Agenda items of ongoing controversy concern, inter alia, the instalment of a zero export quota for hippos (Proposal 1), the inclusion of requiem sharks on Appendix II, including the non-endangered blue shark (Proposal 37) or the consideration of livelihoods and food security when tabling proposals to amend the Appendices (Document 87.1). Whether or not any of these items will be put back to the Plenary for discussion remains to be seen.

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