In Baghdad, CITES workshop paves Iraq’s path for membership

Members of the IFAW delegation, including the author (2nd from left), and the Iraqi Ministry of the Environment Once the plane landed on the runway, we went directly to passport control and then headed to the luggage belt to collect our bags.

Two men waited for us, one of them identified himself as “Ali from Ministry of Environment, deputy minister office, welcome to Baghdad; our duty is to accompany you during your visit to Iraq.”

Ali and our other escort drove us directly to the Ishtar Hotel where IFAW MENA in cooperation with Ministry of Environment in Iraq organized a workshop on CITES specifics for the decision makers of Iraqi Ministries and other related governmental bodies.

The main goal of the workshop was to support Iraq in joining CITES convention.

The workshop was on 1 and 2 of Oct. 2013 in Baghdad and officially opened by a speech from the Ministry of Environment Deputy Minister who welcomed IFAW delegations and thanked IFAW for their support especially Mr. Azzedine Downes.  

The two day workshop covered number of subjects including:

  • How the CITES Management Authority and scientific authority work
  • Common species in trade in MENA region
  • Prevention of wildlife trafficking capacity building program
  • Current wildlife legislation in Iraq
  • Details about wildlife crime around the world
  • The relationship between the international conventions and CITES

Once we finished the workshop on the second day, we were invited to meet the Minister of Environment who welcomed IFAW delegates and confirmed that Iraq is planning to finalize the needed steps to join CITES, and referred to this joining of the convention is already approved by Iraqi Parliament.

From the other side the Minister welcomed the idea of singing a Memorandum of Understanding with IFAW for future cooperation.

It was a nice to visit Baghdad, unfortunately we had only one chance to go out of the Hotel for outside dinner as the deputy Minister ordered his staff to keep us in the hotel for safety reason.

We truly appreciated the very kind hospitality of Iraq Ministry of Environment and their concern about our safety. We’re hoping that next time we will have a chance to go around Baghdad and see one of the oldest cities in the world.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Joseph Okori
Regional Director, Southern Africa and Program Director, Landscape Conservation
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy