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Wildlife trade summit may move to Geneva amid Colombo security concerns

22 / 05 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

COLOMBO — A month after a series of Easter Sunday bombings rocked Sri Lanka and claimed 258 lives, including those of 46 foreign nationals, a top U.N. conservation summit scheduled to take place in Colombo is now likely to be moved to Geneva. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) was to hold its 18th Conference of Parties (CoP18) meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, from May 23 through June 3. But organizers announced April 26 that the event was indefinitely postponed, in the aftermath of the devastating bomb blasts that struck a series of churches and hotels in Colombo and surrounding areas on April 21. A month after the bombings, there’s still confusion over when or whether Sri Lanka will still host the wildlife trade summit. Local media reported a Sri Lankan official as saying the government had proposed postponing the event to October. But the CITES Secretariat, administered by the United Nations Environment Programme and headquartered in Geneva, appears to favor other options: hosting the conference in August in the Swiss city, or rescheduling to early January 2020, due to the considerable logistics involved. A final decision is expected in early June, after the CITES Standing Committee considers the Colombo security assessment. In her latest statement, issued May 17, CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero said the Sri Lankan government had proposed alternative dates for CoP18 in Colombo of Sept. 1 to 13. “In line with United Nations practices, the Secretariat is, therefore, working with the…

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