Friday, March 19, 2010

But what about the button lights?

So, just to clarify what happened yesterday - was it only yesterday? The two votes on the bluefin proposal (1 - the EU proposal which weakened the original Monaco proposal, and the only proposal that the EU member states actually had approval from their governments to vote on, and 2 - the original Monaco proposal which called for an immediate Appendix I listing) were both secret ballots. Iceland had originally requested the secret ballot on one of the votes, but it wasn't clear that it would have applied to BOTH votes. I was hoping that one of the vote counts would have been published, but I just heard from a source within the NZ delegation that the CITES bureau (group that rules on procedural issues at CoPs) have ruled that both votes were indeed secret.

The BBC is also reporting that the UK and possibly other EU member states voted in support of the Monaco proposal
- which they didn't have approval to do as the EU only supported their watered-down version of the Monaco proposal. Officially the EU abstained from the 2nd vote. But since it was a secret ballot, we'll never really know.

What I forgot to mention yesterday was that when Iceland made a motion for a secret ballot, Jordan jumped in (Jordan sits near Japan) and said that some technical adjustments were needed, because when a country makes their vote, the button of their choice (yes, no, abstain) blinks for 30 seconds. So it would have been pretty obvious, at least in their immediate area, how Jordan had voted (worried about what Japan would have seen, Jordan?) The chair of Committee 1, however, put Jordan's worries to rest, saying that the technicians had already thought of that - when a secret ballot is called, ALL the buttons will blink for 30 seconds, no matter which button is pushed. Well, thank goodness for that. We're sentencing an iconic species to extinction but WHAT ABOUT THE BUTTON LIGHTS?

Probably the worst part of the whole vote was the CLAPPING after both proposals were defeated. To to be fair, I think the whole NGO contingent - sorry, I mean the conservationist NGOs, as there are plenty of "sustainable use" NGOs that lobbied hard against both proposals and were clapping right along with the fishing nations - would have stood up and cheered if either one of these proposals had passed and/or if it had been sent to a working group. The press is reporting that it could still be brought back in plenary next Thursday, but I really don't see how. The proposals were so soundly defeated; normally any proposal brought back has to be very, very close. We shall see.

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