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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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).
was written and provided by, Patricia A. Michaels. For additional
information please visit Green
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
trade threatens 10 most-wanted species
Can I Obtain a Permit?
Authority Offices Around The World