Africa: Why the Wildlife Trade Convention Failed to Prevent COVID-19

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It's time to rethink the role of CITES, says its former head, John Scanlon. It has no teeth to enforce wildlife trade laws and could cause the next pandemic.

The pandemic which has locked down the planet's human population is rooted in the trade and consumption of wild animals. But the UN organisation which regulates this trade, CITES, is incapable of preventing the health crisis, says its former head, John Scanlon. This calls for a major and urgent re-evaluation of the organisation, because, he says, it could expose us to the next pandemic.

Speaking in an International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) webinar, "Can CITES help prevent the next pandemic?" he said, "Perhaps we need to reverse the question and ask: Could CITES trade expose us to the next pandemic?"

He indicated that in confining itself to the regulation of trade, CITES has no teeth to protect or regulate the use within national states of the 36,000 species listed on its database. To protect the world from zoonotic diseases, he said, the convention needs to be amended, refocused or superseded by other international protocols.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us in a devastating way of the interconnected nature...

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