victory for elephants as the High Court upholds the UK Ivory Act in the face of opposition
5 November 2019
After all of the hard work IFAW and our supporters have put into passing one of the toughest ivory acts in the world, on Wednesday October 16, the Ivory Act came under threat from the antiques lobby who were looking to overturn the ban at the High Court.
Back in July, the High Court granted permission for the Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures Limited (FACT) to challenge the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on certain aspects of the 2018 Ivory Act. The group were arguing specifically that the Act is incompatible with EU law and infringes on their human rights to buy and sell ivory.
FACT were looking for the High Court to declare that some parts of the Act were invalid, allowing them to suggest amendments that would deliberately weaken, delay and undermine the Ivory Act - putting the lives of elephants at risk.
In Africa, 20,000 elephants are cruelly killed every year for their ivory, just to make meaningless trinkets, and the action taken today by a small group of antique dealers against the Ivory Act, flies in the face of overwhelming public and political support to close down the UK ivory market, as well as our legal obligation to the EU.
The irony is that Belgium, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand have all been looking at the UK Ivory Act as a basis for the introduction of their own ivory bans. IFAW has also been involved in lobbying the EU to introduce a similar ban across Europe, which they are now actively consulting on.
Last month, we were at the High Court to support the Ivory Act and highlight that the interests of a few who profit from the sale of elephant ivory, should not outweigh the conservation benefits of the Act.
However, today we were delighted to see that the High Court has rejected the antiques lobby’s bid to overturn the Ivory Act. This is a fantastic day for elephants, conservation and common sense!
The Ivory Act was universally supported by the majority of political parties across the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and the Government Consultation on the ban received one of the highest ever responses from the general public. As a nation of animal lovers, it was clear that we wanted to do all we could to help save elephants before it was too late.
Closing down ivory markets is a vital tool in helping us to protect elephants and put an end to poaching. We know from bitter experience that the legal ivory trade, even in antique ivory, fuels the illegal trade - the impact of which has decimated elephant populations.
We believe that selling ivory should belong in the past and has no place in modern society.
We commend the High Court’s decision and hope that the Government will move swiftly in implementing the Ivory Act. For now, we will celebrate this victory with our many supporters whose continued dedication help us to create a better home for all animals.
-- David Cowdrey