Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Fauna and Flora
CITES, Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is an international
agreement between Governments with currently 166 member countries.
is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild
animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Because the trade in wild animals and plants crosses borders
between countries, the effort to regulate it requires international
cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation.
CITES was conceived in the spirit of such cooperation. Today,
it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000
species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as
live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.
CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in
1963 at a meeting of members of IUCN (The World Conservation
Union). The text
of the Convention was finally agreed at
a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in Washington
DC., United States of America, on March 3, 1973, and on July
1, 1975 CITES entered in force.
Appendix I lists species threatened with extinction and
CITES generally prohibits commercial international trade
in these specimens. However, trade may be allowed only under
exceptional circumstances, e.g. for scientific research.
Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened
with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely
controlled and these species can be traded commercially only
if trade does not harm their survival.
CITES is an international agreement to which States (countries)
adhere voluntarily. States that have agreed to be bound by
the Convention "joined" CITES and are known as
Parties. 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. Rather it provides
a framework to be respected by each Party which has to adopt
its own domestic legislation to make sure that CITES is implemented
at the national level.
It is extremely important to note that not one species protected
by CITES has become extinct as a result of trade since the
convention entered into force and, for many years, CITES
has been among the largest conservation agreements in existence,
with now 166 parties supporting the Convention.