Tackling the Ivory Trade

by Liam Byrne | 12.07.17 | in: Foreign Policy

Recently, I received an email from a constituent who invited me to an International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) event next week on Tuesday. Unfortunately, due to prior parliamentary commitments, I will be unable to attend the event.

Nonetheless as an animal lover myself, I find any act of animal cruelty revolting. The Ivory Trade, in particular, has wiped out a significant number of African elephants. The World Wildlife Fund ranks these species as ‘vulnerable’ under their classification system. Between 2010 and 2012, up to 33,000 elephants were poached and killed on average each year.

The Conservative manifesto set out by David Cameron prior to the 2015 General Election proposed to enact an ‘outright ban’ on the buying and selling of ivory in the UK. However, the recent Conservative party manifesto of 2017 failed to mention the ivory trade explicitly. This clearly demonstrates a declining interest by the Conservative Party in outlawing the ivory trade. In contrast, Labour believes that we need a total ban on the ivory trade in the UK.

Labour’s strong belief in upholding animal rights is demonstrated by the landmark 2006 Animal Welfare Act, the most comprehensive piece of animal rights legislation in nearly a century. Despite this, the failure of the Conservative government to demonstrate a clear interest in animal rights is evidence that further legislation is needed to improve the protection of animals, including the total banning of the ivory trade.

As well as campaigning for a total ban on the UK ivory trade, the Labour Party plans to strengthen animal rights across the spectrum. The Party also supports the ban of wild animals in circuses, the introduction of mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses across the country, and the banning of animal snares.

The humane treatment of all animals should be a benchmark for any civilised society. National governments have a duty to work together to fight animal cruelty across the world.

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