MESSAGE TO THE 1st ASIA MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
ON TIGER CONSERVATION
FROM THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF CITES
Geneva, 21 January 2010
On behalf of the CITES community, I wish to express my sincere
thanks to His Excellency Minister Suwit Khunkitti for hosting
the 1st Asia Ministerial
Conference on Tiger Conservation.
The Minister has long been a friend and active supporter
of the Convention, having chaired the 13th meeting of the
Conference of the Parties to CITES in Bangkok in 2004.
The present conference in Hua Hin provides an excellent
opportunity for ministers and other senior officials to
consider the future of what is increasingly becoming one
of the worlds rarest animals; the tiger.
I send my very best wishes that the conference in Hua Hin
will be a success and I look forward, with the rest of the
CITES ‘family’, to discussing its outcomes during the 15th
meeting of the Conference of the Parties, in Doha, Qatar,
from 13 to 25 March 2010.
I was delighted to see that among the recommendations adopted
at the Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop was a call for the
capacity of the CITES Secretariat, and its partner agencies,
“to be increased to more effectively and sustainably combat
the illegal trade in wildlife at the international level
and through relevant national agencies”.
With this in mind, the Secretariat convened a meeting, in
November 2009, of representatives of the CITES Secretariat,
ICPO-INTERPOL, the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime,
The World Bank and the World Customs Organization, to discuss
how these agencies might work together more closely to respond
to the appeal made by those who gathered in Nepal in October
It was decided at the November meeting to form the International
Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime and these organizations
are now actively collaborating in developing a programme
that will enhance law enforcement capacity at international,
regional and national levels to bring greater coordination
to protecting the world’s natural resources and to bringing
to justice those who seek to exploit them in a criminal fashion.
As you may know, I retire as Secretary-General of the Convention
shortly after the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties
and, before leaving the service of CITES, I am determined
to help create a new era for wildlife law enforcement. An
era where wildlife criminals will face a formidable, coordinated
opposition, rather than the present situation where the risk
of detection and punishment is all too low. 2010, being the
Chinese Year of the Tiger and the International Year of Biodiversity,
is the ideal time to set this in motion. Whilst the programme
being developed is intended to support wildlife law enforcement
throughout the world, it seems only right that priority assistance
should go to tiger range States.
If the Ministerial Conference in Hua Hin endorses this concept,
as I fervently hope it will, I undertake to meet with the
heads of the partner agencies prior to CITES CoP15 to obtain
their commitment too. The international community will then
be advised of the details of the programme when it meets
in Qatar in March. I have already met, and remain in regular
contact with, Mr Robert Zoellick, President of The World
Bank, and I know that he and his staff are supportive of
this initiative. I deeply appreciate the assistance that
the Bank is currently bringing to tiger conservation.
I regret that my schedule in the approach to the meeting
of the Conference of the Parties prevents me from being in
Hua Hin but I am sending the Secretariat’s Chief of Enforcement
Assistance to brief you on the Consortium’s vision and to
answer any questions you may have.
I encourage participants in the 1st Asia Ministerial Conference
on Tiger Conservation to consider how best the CITES community
might respond to the very considerable and varied threats
facing this species. The conservation of and trade in tigers
is on the agenda of CoP15 and I predict the subject will
receive very considerable attention. It would be excellent
if, as a result of your deliberations in Thailand, tiger
range States could come to Doha with draft decisions that
could be adopted or consensus on ways in which CITES may
Tigers have been discussed in the various fora of CITES for
many years now. And yet the numbers of this magnificent animal,
which is a flagship endangered species and an excellent indicator
of the health of our planet, continue to fall in an alarming
fashion. The alarm bell that has been ringing loud and clear
needs to be heard around the world, and responded to, if
we are not to lose one of the best-known symbols of conservation.
If the tiger is lost, what hope is there for the millions
of other species upon which humans and the Earth rely? This
must not be allowed to happen.
I wish to close by repeating my thanks to the Government
of Thailand and other agencies that have worked so hard to
organize the Hua Hin conference and by sending my very warm
wishes for a successful event. I hope to see many of
you in Qatar in a few weeks time.