CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international trade agreement aimed at controlling cross-border trade in endangered plant and animal species and preventing their over-exploitation. It was signed in Washington in 1973 and ratified by Switzerland – as one of the first member states – in 1975. Furthermore, the original document is deposited in Switzerland and the CITES Secretariat is located in Geneva. To date, 183 countries have signed the agreement, which protects a total of around 5,800 animal species and 30,000 plant species. The latter are grouped into three categories according to their vulnerability (Annexes I-III). Depending on their classification, the international trade in these species is either prohibited or subject to authorization.
The Standing Committee provides guidance to the CITES Secretariat on the implementation of the Convention and monitors the development and implementation of the Secretariat's budget. CITES is funded by the CITES Trust Fund and member states are encouraged to make further financial contributions. For the period 2019-2022, Switzerland pledged a financial contribution of one million Swiss francs per year to support CITES.
At the 70th meeting of the Standing Committee in Sochi, issues such as compliance with and enforcement of the convention, trade in ivory, and Japan's trade in strictly protected sei whales - among many other issues - were on the agenda. The entire conference programme can be viewed here
The Standing Committee discussed a number of issues relating to ivory trade, including the closure of national ivory markets. Legal markets allow illegal ivory to be smuggled and traded through these channels. The Standing Committee also suggested the importance of identifying ivory range and consumer countries through forensic investigations and other instruments, so that effective action can be taken in the problem countries identified.