International Organizations:

Private Funding of Delegate Travel

RCED-87-22: Published: Oct 6, 1986. Publicly Released: Oct 6, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined: (1) nongovernmental organizations' participation in conventions of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); and (2) their influence on delegates to these meetings.

GAO noted that: (1) at past IWC meetings, several countries' delegates were nonresidents but, in 1986, most countries were represented by residents; (2) nonresidents have very rarely been the principal delegates for countries attending CITES meetings; (3) several secret ballots were taken at the most recent CITES meeting; (4) four nongovernmental organizations, one private citizen, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) provided about $57,000 for airline tickets and per diem expenses to delegates from 24 member countries and 1 observer country for travel to the most recent CITES general meeting; (5) nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations, and FWS have also paid the travel expenses of many foreign delegates to previous CITES meetings; (6) the CITES Secretariat asked nongovernmental organizations to provide travel funds for the 1985 CITES meeting when it could not obtain funds from member governments, the United Nations, or other international organizations; and (7) the CITES Secretary General recommended to the CITES Standing Committee that a trust fund be established to help fund CITES projects and pay for delegate travel.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FWS officially went on record in a September 21, 1987, letter to the Department of State supporting the trust fund idea. The trust fund was established, as evidenced by its having received tax exempt status and its first dollar contribution. One of the functions of the fund will be to fund delegate travel.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should support the creation of a trust fund to finance the travel to CITES meetings of delegates whose countries cannot afford to pay these expenses.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior


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