Monday, 25 August 2008 9:10 AM

Butterflies and my final 2-cents

I would like to thank Mark Berman (San Francisco) and Mata Liua (Liverpool) for comments made in response to my article. They are important contributions. In response to the latter I would say, 'Yes and No', for the following reasons:
1. Solomon Islands (SI) parliament deliberated on 3 November 1998 the bill which eventually became 'The Wildlife Protection and Management Act 1998 (No. 10 of 1998)'. It was assented to in her Majesty's name and on Her Majesty's behalf on May 1999, and became law. In short, it is a twenty-two-pages-and-6396 -worded Act! It clearly spelled out its legal parameters on page 1:
'An Act to provide for the protection, conservation and management of wildlife in Solomon Islands by regulating the export and import of certain animals and plants; to comply with the obligations imposed upon Solomon Islands under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species [CITES] of Wild Fauna and Flora and for other means connected therewith or incidental thereto.'
2. On the basis of the above act by SI parliament, it is clear that Mata Liua's assertion ("Parliament must legislate for it inorder [in order] for it to be enforced in the country") should easily be archived. But I also recognised that he (am sorry if this is a madam am responding to!) was perfectly right when he stated that "there is no law in the country prohibiting farming of such species, therefore nothing can stop entusiastical [enthusiastic] farmers from doing so." I agree and would like to add, the SI legislators have not yet reach such a point of plain carelessness, where such a preposterous legal frame for butterfly ranching be recorded as theirs! Not during their watch. Those are his recorded comments as they cannot be picked out from my article;
3. The question one may like to ask would be: why did Solomon Islands enacted an Act for a treaty it would be a Party to nine years later? It's not difficult to explain, but lets just say: an interesting question for other discussions;

4.Mata Liua was principally correct when he outlined that "signing and ratifying a treaty does not authomatically [automatically] make it a law within the country..." However, he failed to note that a treaty must enter into force for a State, before a State can be referred to as a "Party" to a treaty. This is why I did not use 'ratification' but 'its entry into force for Solomon Islands ('SI acceded to the treaty on 26/03/2007, and it entered into force for SI on 24/06/2007').
5. He alluded to a basic interpretation of treaty law, that which I have no problem in agreeing to. In short, 'ratification' does not make the treaty binding on the State 'unless and until the treaty has entered into force for that State.' In the Vienna Convention 1969, Article 2 (1): '(b) "ratification", "acceptance", "approval" and "accession" mean in each case the international act so named whereby a State establishes on the international plane its consent to be bound by a treaty; and Art 2 (1) (g) is clear: "party" means a State which has consented to be bound by the treaty and for which the treaty is in force..'
6. To readers, a treaty is not like national legislation which, once in force, applies to all whom it is directed. Once a treaty has entered into force for a State, it does not necessarily become part of its law. Treaty law and domestic law operate on different legal levels. Treaty law creates rights and obligations binding on States and other international legal persons. But, when a treaty confers rights or imposes obligations on natural or legal persons, they can only be given effect only if they have been made part of the domestic law of a Party. To this latter end, SI as explained above has given effect to its CITES obligations in 1999.
7. My final 2-cents comments to readers would be:
i) The butterfly framing venture locally maybe a little new to me, but an uncle of mine used to have a small wildlife exporting company in the nineties. And I occasionally would drop by at White River where his establishment used to be;
ii) I am not a lawyer in anyone's definition (fortunately!), and I don't have to be one before I can start to contribute legal comments about my country. Sadly, this kind of thinking that only lawyers can discuss legal matters, can be likened to 'you can only buy a guitar if you are playing in a rock band', or 'one can only buy soccer shoes if one is a professional soccer player.' I am allergic to such reasoning! I make comments about my country because I am a proud Solomon Islander; and finally
iii) These legal opinions and whatever errors they are found to have are solely my responsibilities, and not of my employer the SI Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I would also imagine that Mata Liua's errors are solely his own too.
Once again, thank you Mark Berman and Mata Liua.
I rest this case for the last time.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of George Hoa'au and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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