Chapter 22: The role of CITES in ensuring sustainable and legal trade in wild fauna and flora
CITES is the acronym for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. It was called for as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Convention was signed on 3 March 1973, and entered into force on 1 July 1975. At the time of writing, therefore, it has been in operation for 40 years. It combines wildlife and trade themes with a legally binding instrument for achieving conservation and sustainable use objectives. The purpose is to ensure that wild fauna and flora in international trade are not exploited unsustainably. The Convention establishes an international legal framework together with common procedural mechanisms for the control of international commercial trade in species threatened with extinction. It aims to achieve effective regulation of international trade in those species. This framework and the common procedural mechanism are now used by 181 parties to regulate and monitor international trade in species listed under the Convention. The Preamble to the Convention pays particular attention to the aesthetic as well as the scientific, cultural, recreational and economic value of wild fauna and flora. In setting out the context for the Convention, the Contracting States recognize that ‘wild fauna and flora in their many beautiful and varied forms are an irreplaceable part of the natural systems of the earth which must be protected for this and the generations to come’ (CITES 1973). The Preamble also acknowledges that ‘peoples and States are and should be the best protectors of their own wild fauna and flora’ and that ‘international co-operation is essential for the protection of certain species of wild fauna and flora against over-exploitation through international trade’. Finally, the Preamble notes that the parties are ‘convinced of the urgency of taking appropriate measures to this end’ (CITES 1973, emphasis in original).
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