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Cites Information



The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, as it is commonly called, is one of the earliest post World War II environment treaties to be negotiated, signed and implemented. In brief, CITES purpose is to regulate wildlife trade including animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and plants (with fisheries trade consistently subject to debate). The reasons underlying the need for an international regime to regulate trade in this area have been apparent to many states since the first modern attempt at trade regulation, The 1900 London Convention Designed to Ensure the Conservation of Various Species of Wild Animals in Africa which are Useful to Man or Inoffensive, failed at the ratification stage. Unencumbered trade in wildlife, coupled with increased pressure on wildlife habitat adversely affects wildlife populations, up to the verge of extinction.

Tracing the origin of CITES goes back to a 1963 resolution at a conference of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), a conservation group of scientists, non-governmental and governmental organizations in operation since 1948. Ten years of draft proposals and negotiations among concerned parties culminated in the signing of CITES at a Conference in Washington D.C. in 1973. The treaty entered into force in 1975 when ten state governments ratified it. Approximately one hundred and fifty states are currently party to the treaty.

How CITES Works

CITES can best be described as a three legged institution perched atop a set of appendices. All three of CITES primary institutions, the Secretariat, The Conference of Parties, and the Management and Scientific Authorities theoretically work in harmony to monitor transnational trade of designated wildlife in order to insure that said trade continues on a sustainable basis.

The CITES Secretariat represents the administrative arm of the institution, responsible for information gathering and dissemination, as well as organizing the bi-annual meetings of the parties.

The Conference of Parties or COP as is is commonly known, is the formal gathering of all states party to the treaty, and interested other parties. They meet on a regular basis, approximately once evey two years to review the effectiveness of the treaty and vote on any proposed changes to species listings.

CITES teeth, or the legal implementation of the terms of the treaty, are the province of each member state. States are given a basic set of guidelines to establish a Management and Scientific Authority for regulating, monitoring, and enforcing both the importation and exportation of listed species.

CITES Appendices

Arguably, the appendices are the most important CITES tool because they determine the trade status of species. CITES came complete with an already established set of three appendices, each containing its own set of listings. However, the treaty itself provided no substantive guidance for future additions and subtractions from the appendices. That would be left up to the COP.

Thus far the listing criteria has evolved through two separate phases, the Bern Criteria, adopted at COP1 (1976) and the Everglades Criteria, adopted at COP 9 (1994). The terms of the Everglades Criteria stated that a full review of these criteria be undertaken prior to COP 12 (the next meeting) and consequently parties at COP 11 will review the work done to date by the Standing Committee and the Animals and Plants Committees.

Appendix I - Species here are recognized as the most endangered, potentially on the verge of extinction. Trade in these species is limited to a very few cases (see Article 3 of the treaty) in which the primary trade consideration is not commercial interests. For example, elephants in this category could be traded if the purpose of their trade was scientific research (i.e., elephants going to certain zoos for care and reproductive research.)

Appendix II - Species here are recognized as 'potentially' endangered and are subject to monitored or managed trade. In this category, commercial interests may be a primary factor for trade (see Article 4 of the treaty). In many instances, trade is commonly restricted to species coming from specific geographical regions and/or a quota on their trade is put into place. So, for example, the placing of elephants on this list means that the ivory trade can continue providing that the trade meets certain requirements.

Appendix III - Article II (3) defines this category as "all species which any Party identifies as being subject to regulation within its jurisdiction for the purpose of preventing or restricting exploitation, and as needing the co-operation of other Parties in the control of trade". Generally only a trade permit and compliance with the domestic laws of the trading states is required (see Article 5 of the treaty).

 

Information was written and provided by, Patricia A. Michaels. For additional information please visit Green Nature

 

Important Links

CITES Secretariat Website

Find out if your bird listed as Appendix I, II, or III and requiers
special permits to send blood or feather samples to the U.S.A

Illegal trade threatens 10 most-wanted species

How Can I Obtain a Permit?

Management Authority Offices Around The World

Green Nature


 

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