Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

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Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Blog Image


Trade in precious timber and sharks and conservation of elephants and big cats were among the many critical matters reviewed during the 77th Meeting of the Standing Committee (SC77) of the CITES in Geneva recently.

About Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

  • It is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
  • CITES was adopted in 1973 and entered into force in 1975.
  • There are 184 member parties, and trade is regulated in more than 38,000 species.
  • Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words, they have to implement the Convention–it does not take the place of national laws.
  • The CITES Secretariat is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and is located in Geneva, Switzerland. 
  • Representatives of CITES nations meet every two to three years at a Conference of the Parties (or COP) to review progress and adjust the lists of protected species, which are grouped into three categories with different levels of protection:
  • Appendix I:
    • It includes species threatened with extinction and provides the greatest level of protection, including a prohibition on commercial trade.
  • Appendix II:
    • It includes species that are not currently threatened with extinction but may become so without trade controls. 
    • Regulated trade is allowed if the exporting country issues a permit based on findings that the specimens were legally acquired and the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species or its role in the ecosystem.
  • Appendix III:
    • It includes species for which a country has asked other CITES parties to help control international trade. 
    • Trade in Appendix III species is regulated using CITES export permits (issued by the country that listed the species in Appendix III) and certificates of origin (issued by all other countries).
    • Countries may list species for which they have domestic regulations in Appendix III at any time.
  • CITES also brings together law enforcement officers from wildlife authorities, national parks, customs, and police agencies to collaborate on efforts to combat wildlife crime targeted at animals such as elephants and rhinos.

Q1) What is the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)?

UNEP is the leading environmental authority in the United Nations system. UNEP uses its expertise to strengthen environmental standards and practices while helping implement environmental obligations at the country, regional and global levels. UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

Source: Compliance with wildlife trade rules dominates first CITES Standing Committee meeting following CoP19