Standing Committee’s clearing house

  back to the SC page

Standing Committee’s clearing house

At its 50th meeting (Geneva, March 2004), the Standing Committee established a clearing house to refer technical implementation issues to the appropriate CITES body.

As outlined in document SC50 Doc. 10, Annex 2 (Rev. 1), the clearing house comprises two officials nominated by Parties and appointed by the Standing Committee to advise on the handling of technical implementation issues referred to the latter. The current members of the clearing house are Mr Bruce Weissgold (United States of America) and Mr Colman O'Criodain (Ireland).

The Standing Committee has also established a referral procedure describing how issues are submitted to the clearing house, the course of actions the clearing house follows when examining these issues, and the various possible outcomes. In short, the clearing house needs to analyse and categorize the problem as being of an administrative, operational or technical, policy, or scientific nature, and submit to the Standing Committee a recommendation on the body that should deal with the issue and the desired outcome. The definition of the different categories as well as the detail of the referral procedure are provided below.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

General definition

Clearing-house – two officials nominated by Parties and appointed by the Standing Committee to advise on the handling of technical implementation issues referred to the latter. These persons do not hold formal meetings and all business is handled by email or by telephone. They refer their recommendations to the Chairman of the Standing Committee for a final decision, in consultation with the Committee members if appropriate.

Category definitions

Administrative issues – issues for which a process or body is already in place, but which require oversight and support to bring to fruition. The action required will involve coordinating, organizing, liaising, supervising and facilitating actions to ensure progress. The desired outcome would usually be to improve the effectiveness of a particular procedure or process.

Operational and technical issues – issues that require consideration from a day-to-day management perspective and involve comparing, analysing, considering, applying and piloting possible procedures to ensure practicality. The desired outcome would usually be a tool or procedure.

Policy issues – issues that require resolution in the form of a universal definition or ruling that involves integrating, defining, clarifying or drafting texts to ensure clarity and consistency of the policy in question. The desired outcome would usually be a reference document.

Scientific issues – issues that require scientific input to ensure that the fundamental principles of the Convention are achieved in the most effective way. This will involve researching, reporting and advising on particular cases to ensure that decisions are scientifically-based. The desired outcome would usually be a report.

REFERRAL PROCEDURE

1. An issue is referred to the Standing Committee by the Conference of the Parties, one of the permanent committees, a Party or the Secretariat.

2. The Chairman of the Standing Committee refers the issue to the clearing house.

3. The clearing-house prepares the following for the Chairman of the Standing Committee:

a) a brief description (preferably less than one page) defining the problem by outlining:

i) the issues to be addressed;
ii) an analysis of the issue;
iii) the States, organizations or persons to be consulted or involved; and
iv) the desired outcome (e.g. a definition, a database or a register);

b) i) a recommendation as to which CITES body should consider the issue in accordance with the implementation category definitions or other guidelines provided by the Chairman of the Standing Committee; or

ii) a recommendation to take no action, if given the possibility by the Chairman of the Standing Committee. The clearing-house may reach this conclusion if it determines that the issue is trivial or that attempts to remedy it would have unacceptable consequences or are too costly; and

c) In general, a referral that would be categorized as:

i) administrative issues to be referred to the Secretariat;
ii) scientific issues to be referred to the Animals Committee, the Plants Committee and/or the Nomenclature Committee; or
iii) policy and operational and technical issues to be referred to the Chairman of the Standing Committee in the first instance, although the issue might ultimately require a working group or a decision of the Conference of the Parties to progress the issue.

4. The Chairman of the Standing Committee should consider the recommendations for referral to one of the CITES bodies. If the Chairman of the Standing Committee is in doubt regarding the referral, he should refer the issue back to the clearing-house for a more thorough analysis and a later submission to the next meeting of the Standing Committee for a final decision.

5. Issues referred by this process to a CITES body should be dealt with according to its practices and rules of procedure. For example, an ad hoc working group may be formed or the Secretariat may be requested to engage a consultant to address the issue.