The UK Government has this morning announced a consultation to end the trade in ivory of all ages.
This announcement follows five years of concerted legal, diplomatic and advocacy work by Stop Ivory, the leading international NGO established and launched out of Mishcon de Reya by Alexander Rhodes. Stop Ivory's work has included building a coalition of governments, NGOs, scientists and academics, a legal opinion prepared by Mishcon de Reya, Blackstone Chambers and 20 Essex Street and a series of papers published with the South African Institute of International Affairs.
In line with the approach taken by other countries, the Government is proposing certain narrowly-defined and carefully-targeted exemptions for items which do not contribute to the poaching of elephants and where a ban would be unwarranted.
Making the announcement this morning, Michael Gove the Environment Secretary, said: "We want to get as close to a total ban as possible because it contributes to a trade that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of elephants every year. I am particularly grateful also for the campaigning work of organisations like WWF and Stop Ivory because these are non-governmental organisations that have been campaigning on something of real importance."
Stop Ivory issued the following statement: "Stop Ivory and its partners welcome today's action by the UK Government. By starting the process to bring in a total ban on ivory sales in the UK, the Government is furthering its efforts to support the African countries leading the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) to secure a meaningful future for elephants across Africa, the initiative the Government helped launch at the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in 2014. The unprecedented crisis we face – with Africa's natural heritage being destroyed and communities put at risk due to poaching by illegal armed gangs – will only stop when people stop buying ivory. Along with our partners, we congratulate the Government on this important step and look forward to working with it and our colleagues to ensure the ban is implemented robustly and without delay."
The consultation will run for 12 weeks, closing on 29 December and can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-plans-for-ivory-ban
Next year, the Government will host the fourth International Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade.