John Scanlon CITES
John Scanlon, CITES secretary-general. Photo courtesy of CITES.

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Speaking to ATG, John Scanlon, CITES secretary-general, said: “The resolution for the closure of domestic ivory trade was put forward [to the conference] and is now being debated in a working group.

“Some members in the working group have expressed how their domestic markets work, with exemptions such as antique ivory.”

Fears in the run up to the conference were that some members, including the US delegation, could push for a wholesale ban.

At the time LAPADA chief executive Rebecca Davies highlighted the impact such a move would have on dealers. “If there was a blanket ban, more than 350 LAPADA members would be seriously affected, with many driven out of business,” she said at ATG’s ‘Great ivory debate’ in July.

Proposed Amendment

However, Scanlon confirmed an amendment had been proposed by the US delegation that provides caveats for nations who, while strongly supporting the ban on illegal ivory, permit trade in ivory items of a “certain age”.

Under the so-called ‘final rule’ of the US law on elephant ivory, an antiques exemption exists for items at least 100 years old while, within the EU, the worked item derogation permits the trade in CITES-protected material worked prior to 1947.

As previously reported, the UK government plan to tighten rules surrounding ivory. As part of plans sketched out on September 21, Defra will push for definitive proof of age whenever pre-1947 ivory works of art are sold.

What proof of age will mean in practice remains to be seen.

Earlier in the week, the conference, scheduled to end on October 4, overwhelmingly rejected by 76 to 20 proposals from some African nations to resume the sale of modern ivory, last permitted in 2008.