The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a voluntary international agreement signed by 175 national governments. It provides a framework for subjecting the international trade of certain specimens to monitoring and control. It is legally binding and signatories must ensure that adequate national measures are undertaken to comply to it.
Species covered by the convention can be categorised into three main types (detailed in Annexes).
- Annex 1: species threatened with extinction. Trade in Annex 1 species is only allowed in ‘exceptional circumstances’
- Annex 2: species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction but for which unregulated international trade could present a challenge to their continuing survival. As a result trade is monitored and regulated using the CITES permit and certificate system.
- Annex 3: species that are protected in at least one country and for which one or more countries have approached CITES parties and asked for assistance in controlling trade. Trade in these species is monitored and regulated if necessary.
CITES binds signatory governments to monitoring, regulating and enforcing trade of endangered species.
CITES has 179 member countries across Africa, the Americas, the Carribbean and Europe, as well as Oceania. The respective governments are currently working together to protect 5,600 species of animals and almost 30,000 species of plants.
CITES was drafted as a resolution at the 1963 meeting of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It fully entered into force on 1 July 1975. Full versions of CITES are available in Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. It now has 177 members.
Core funding comes from the CITES Trust Fund which is itself funded by contributions from CITES parties - or member countries. According to CITES', 'Status of Contributions,' it is due to receive US$6,170,052 into this fund. In addition, CITES also receives external funding for NGOs, Charities and muli-lateral institutions, for example the European Commission. CITES also receive extra funding from the US as well as the European Commission to implement the COP15 decisions. The total budget is approximately US$6 million per year (2014-2016).
The biggest and most successful effort to track and regulate trade in endangered species.