CITES Secretary-General's update on the postponement of CITES CoP18

I wish to inform Parties and interested stakeholders about the latest developments for CITES CoP18 that was scheduled to be held from 23 May to 3 June 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the postponement as announced on 26 April via Notification to the Parties No. 2019/025.

The Government of Sri Lanka has proposed alternative dates for CoP18 in Colombo of 1-13 September 2019. In line with United Nations practices, the Secretariat is, therefore, working with the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) to assess the security situation on the ground with Sri Lankan colleagues, UNDSS officials and the United Nations Resident Coordinator for the country. We expect the assessment at the end of May 2019.

Resolution Conf. 17.2 on Financing and the costed programme of work for the Secretariat for the triennium 2017-2019 affirms that all meetings of the Conference of the Parties should be held in the Host country of the Secretariat (Switzerland) unless a candidate host country pays the difference in costs between its proposed venue and Switzerland. With this in mind, and conscious of the need to hold the meeting as soon as possible and the uncertainties over the situation in Sri Lanka, we have been exploring possible options for holding CoP18 in Switzerland in case the need arises.

Finding suitable premises for such a large meeting at short notice is challenging. At present the only options would appear to be in the second half of August 2019 and in early January 2020. The Secretariat is working on the financial, legal and logistical considerations for all options and expect to be in a position to provide guidance and a recommendation to the Standing Committee in early June.  

The Secretariat wishes to thank the Parties, especially Sri Lanka, and interested stakeholders for their patience and understanding whilst these difficult deliberations are completed. I also take this opportunity to thank my team in the Secretariat for their dedication and hard work in moving forward efficiently and respectfully towards all under these extraordinary circumstances.

With my kindest regards.

Ivonne Higuero

CITES Secretary-General