19 November 2013
A piece in the New York Times draws attention to the risks raised by the decision of the Security Council to authorise the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to ‘neutralize armed groups’, contrary to prior passive peacekeeping forces. This brigade is comprised of 3,000 soldiers from South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi.
It notes that the Congolese government walked out on peace talks with rebels, as a result of such one-sided support from the UN. Additionally, this authorisation could affect peacekeeping operations worldwide, as there are almost 100,000 peacekeepers stationed from the Western Sahara and Haiti, to Cyprus and Kashmir. Humanitarian aid organisations are considered such operations will put their workers at risk because armed groups will no longer distinguish soldiers and those that provide food and shelter to civilians during war. Furthermore, countries which traditionally send many troops to serve as peacekeepers, such as India and Uruguay, feel uneasy about this new direction, as prior peacekeeping posed little risk of casualties. A UN official, speaking anonymously, was concerned about the precedent which would be set by this authorisation and stated that the Security Council was ‘careful to say it was not a precedent, but every time you say that that’s exactly what you’re making.’
Source: New York Times | New U.N. Brigade’s Aggressive Stance in Africa Brings Success, and Risks
28 August 2013
The Vietnamese CITES Management Authority and Humane Society International announced the launching of a public awareness raising campaign aimed at reducing demand for rhino horn in Vietnam where rhino horn is used for traditional Asian medicine.
Vietnam is considered by the Conference of the Parties of CITES to be the principal consumer country for rhino horn originating mainly from South Africa where more than 580 rhinos have been poached this year. In connection with the launching, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development emphasised the importance of international cooperation as a crucial element in addressing conservation of endangered wildlife.
Source: Africa Science News | Campaign Launched to Reduce Demand for Rhino Horn
Source: CITES | Decisions of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in effect after its 15th meeting
5 August 2013
According to news reports, Czech authorities announced on 23 July that they had uncovered an international gang responsible for illegally smuggling white rhinoceros horn from South Africa to Asia, where rhino horn is used in traditional medicine.
According to Czech authorities, the crime syndicate had links to pseudo-hunting in South Africa whereby legislation allowing for non-commercial hunting trophies is exploited by proxy-hunters in order to legally repatriate trophy horns to the Czech Republic and illegally trade them further to unspecified Asian countries. The uncovering comes after concerns were raised earlier this year over the recruitment of sport hunters in the Czech Republic and Poland in order to obtain rhino horn in South Africa on behalf of Vietnamese operatives.
Source: AFP | Czech police crack rhinoceros horn smuggling ring
Source: CITES | Interpretation and implementation of the Convention | Species trade and conservation | Rhinoceroses | Report of the Secretariat | Sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, Bangkok (Thailand), 3-14 March 2013 | CoP16 Doc. 54.2 (Rev. 1)
Source: Save the Rhino | Czech authorities uncover major rhino horn smuggling case