“Wild fauna and flora in their many beautiful and varied forms are an irreplaceable part of the natural systems of the earth which must be protected for this and the generations to come.“
– Preamble, CITES Convention
About CitesThe international wildlife trade is worth billions of dollars annually and has been responsible for the decline of wild populations of a number of species of animals and plants. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty was first signed in 1973 in order to protect certain species of wild fauna and flora against over-exploitation through trade. CITES first entered into force on 1 July 1975, and now 175 nations (“Parties”) have signed the CITES treaty. CITES provides three levels of protection for species in international trade.
Includes those species that are threatened with extinction and that are or may be affected by international trade. These species may not be traded internationally for primarily commercial purposes. However, such species may be exported and imported for non-commercial purposes. Examples of species on CITES Appendix I are the tiger, Asian elephant, chimpanzee, humpback whale, sun bear, scarlet macaw, sea turtle species, Brazilian rosewood, giant tropical pitcher plant, and Asian tropical lady’s slipper orchid.
A CITES export permit for any live specimen of a species listed on any CITES Appendix may be granted only when the Management Authority of the exporting Party is satisfied that it will be prepared and shipped so as to minimize the risk of injury, damage to health, or cruel treatment.
CITES Parties are expected to implement and enforce the treaty’s provisions through domestic legislation. Each Party must establish a CITES Management Authority to issue import and export permits, to monitor trade in CITES species, and to compile annual trade reports, and a CITES Scientific Authority to provide scientific expertise on import and export decisions. Fundamental to this approach is the use of precaution in cases of uncertainty: Trade should not be allowed unless there are sufficient information and safeguards to ensure that a species is protected from over-utilization
The Parties consider and vote on proposals to add or delete species from Appendices I and II at their triennial meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COPs). Parties may unilaterally add species to Appendix III at any time.
CITES COPs also provide an opportunity for Parties to consider and vote on resolutions that interpret the language of the treaty. For example, the Parties have adopted resolutions providing criteria for listing species on the CITES Appendices, a mechanism for reviewing the trade in Appendix II species to ensure that it is not detrimental to the survival of species, and a procedure for approving and registering operations that captive breed or ranch for commercial purposes species listed on CITES Appendix I.
Three CITES Committees–the Standing, Animals, and Plants Committees–each composed of Party representatives from six geographic regions [Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America], are active between COPs.
To visit the Official CITES website, go to our Links page.