citesbanner2 For nearly 20 years, the staff of The Humane Society of Canada have actively participated in the administration and enforcement of CITES, an United Nations treaty to which 175 nations, including Canada (which was a founding member) are signatories. CITES stands for the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species and is the most important wildlife treaty in the world.

The Humane Society of Canada has forged a strategic partnership with and is a member of the Species Survival Network (SSN), an international coalition of more than 80 international NGO's representing millions of people around the world committed to the promotion, enhancement and enforcement of CITES.

The 15th Conference of the Parties took place in March, 2010 in Doha, Qatar from the 13th until the 25th. The SSN issues position statements in regards to different endangered animals that might be affected by trade. You can read the position statements here.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (ISSD) is a non-profit Canadian organization. Each day they publish the Earth Negotiations Bulletin - a summary of the day's events at the conference. You can read the daily bulletins here.

Read what's happening at CITES in the news

According to INTERPOL, drugs, weapons and endangered species are the three most illegally traded commodities in the world. INTERPOL estimates that the global illegal trade in endangered species is worth more than $20 billion dollars a year and is steadily growing. The international commercial 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 commercial trade. CITES first entered into force on 9 July 1975.

CITES provides three levels of protection for species in international commercial trade.

CITES Appendix I

Includes those species that are threatened with extinction and that are or may be affected by international commercial 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 tigers, Asian elephants, chimpanzees, humpback whales, sun bears, scarlet macaws, sea turtles, Brazilian rosewood, giant tropical pitcher plants, and Asian tropical lady's slipper orchids.

CITES Appendix II

Includes those species that, although not necessarily threatened with extinction, may become so unless trade is strictly regulated in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival. Species also may be listed on Appendix II if their parts or products cannot be readily distinguished from those of other species listed on CITES Appendix I or II. International commercial trade in Appendix II species is allowed, but is strictly controlled. Parties may only grant a permit to export such species after it has determined that the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species. Examples of species listed on Appendix II are American black bears, southern fur seals, Hartmann's mountain zebra, toco toucans, iguanas, Pacific Coast mahogany, triangle palm, and cyclamens.

CITES Appendix III

Includes those species that any Party has identified as being subject to regulation of exploitation within its jurisdiction and as needing the cooperation of other Parties to monitor international trade in the species. Such cooperation is achieved primarily by the issuance of export permits by a state which has included the species in Appendix III (these may be granted only if the specimen was not obtained in contravention of the laws of the exporting Party) and by the issuance of certificates of origin by other states that export Appendix III species. Examples of species listed on Appendix III and the countries that listed them are two-toed sloths (Costa Rica), African civets (Botswana), African waxbill (Ghana), and bigleaf mahogany (Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico)

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 biennial (or 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.

A list of amendments to Appendix I & II species listings as agreed upon at the 13th Conference Of the Parties (CoP) in Bangkok, 2004 is available here

View a List of Common Acronyms in CITES and SSN Documents here

The 8th edition of The Evolution of CITES is now available.

This book presents the provisions of the Convention and relevant Resolutions and Decisions in an accessible way as well as provides explanations and comments to facilitate an understanding of the Convention and of how it should be implemented.


CITES in the news

Thailand fails to be delisted from ivory 'shame file' - Bangkok Post, Mar 30, 2010

Little celebration as Cites ends - Al Jazeera, Mar 26, 2010

Cites is not a failure: US delegation - Gulf Times, Mar 25, 2010

Minor victories for tigers, elephants and rhinos at CITES meeting - Scientific American, Mar 24, 2010

Bringing an organized response to organized wildlife crime - CITES News Release, Mar 24, 2010

Future for Gorillas in Africa Getting Bleaker - CITES News Release, Mar 24, 2010

CITES Backs Country's Proposal On Rhino Protection - Daily Nation, Mar 23, 2010

Cites rejects curbs on UAE shark fishing - The National, Mar 23, 2010

Endangered species: Last chance to see - The Guardian, Mar 23, 2010

UN conference tackles Mideast animal trade - Ynet News, Mar 23, 2010

Minister Mwangunga in hot soup over ivory sale plan - This Day, Mar 23, 2010

Bid to regulate trade in rare corals rejected - Gulf Times, Mar 22, 2010

UN adds iguanas, tree frogs and other terrestrial species to endangered list - Spero News, Mar 22, 2010

CITES Gives Enforcement of Tiger Trade Ban Top Priority - ENS, Mar 22, 2010

UN body rejects Tanzania ivory sale - Sydney Morning Herald, Mar 22, 2010

Group Rejects Tanzanian Bid for One-Off Ivory Sale - New York Times, Mar 22, 2010

Libyan rant may have sealed bluefin tuna's fate - Winnipeg Free Press, Mar 22, 2010

Deep divisions threaten species - Irish Times, Mar 20, 2010

U.S. Federal Agencies Honored for Smashing Sea Turtle Smuggling Rings - ENS, Mar 19, 2010

Bluefin tuna loses out simply because scarce fish make a profit - The Guardian, Mar 19, 2010

Fin times - The Economist, Mar 18, 2010

Fate of Tanvania Ivory Sale Next Week - Brunei News - Mar 18, 2010

Government may be stuck with ivory stockpile - The Citizen, Mar 18, 2010

CITES spices the bluefin tuna debate with oils and essences - CITES News Release - Mar 17, 2010

France opposes immediate tuna ban: Kouchner - AFP, Mar 17, 2010

Japan, detractors trade barbs on eve of tuna debate - AFP, Mar 17, 2010

Agony and Ivory - Daily Telegraph, Mar 17, 2010

Internet trade driving rare salamander to extinction - The Independent, Mar 17, 2010

In sushi bars, tuna vanishes bite by bite - Channel News Asia, Mar 17, 2010

Wildlife law enforcers honoured - Gulf News, Mar 17, 2010

Deal Offered to Protect Elephants - CBS News, Mar 16, 2010

While stocks last - The Economist, Mar 16, 2010

Tuna ban: EU squabbling, China opposed - AFP, Mar 16, 2010

Polar Bear Protection Scuppered By Brussels - The Daily Express, Mar 16, 2010

Asia's endangered delicacies - CNN, Mar 16, 2010

CITES to discuss initiatives to dismantle criminal networks involved in tiger and rhino poaching - CITES News Release, Mar 15, 2010

Corruption raises doubts over ivory sales - New Scientist, Mar 15, 2010

Endangered Species Perish While Governments Debate Trade Rules - ENS, Mar 15, 2010

Order toro (and tuna salad) while you can - Toronto Star, Mar 14, 2010

Limits urged on use of coral - Herald Tribune, Mar 14, 2010

John Scanlon appointed as New Secretary-General of CITES - CITES News Release, Mar 13, 2010

Ivory and bluefin tuna top agenda at UN wildlife summit - BBC, Mar 13, 2010

Garrett rejects bluefin trade ban - Sydney Morning Herald, Mar 13, 2010

Ban on bluefin tuna trade in balance at U.N. talks - Reuters, Mar 12, 2010

Scientists Mount Push to Block Ivory Sale - AOL News, Mar 12, 2010

Lucrative Shark Trade Under Scrutiny - IPS, Mar 12, 2010

Tanzania, Zambia "too corrupt to trade ivory" - AFROL News, Mar 12, 2010

African Nations Move to 'Downlist' the Elephant - Time Magazine, Mar 11, 2010

Japan says it won't comply with bluefin tuna ban - Washington Post, Mar 5, 2010