Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international convention 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. 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. These species are grouped into three categories according to their vulnerability (Appendices I-III). Depending on their classification, the international trade in these species is either prohibited or subject to authorization.
The CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP) is held every two to three years to review the implementation of the Convention. The Parties may review progress in the conservation of the species listed in the Appendices, evaluate (and, where appropriate, adopt) proposals to amend the lists of species in Appendices I and II, consider working documents and reports from the Parties, the Standing Committee, the Secretariat and working groups, and make recommendations for action to improve the effectiveness of the Convention. In addition, the Parties may make provisions that are necessary for the Secretariat to function effectively.
At this year's conference, around 101 working documents and 56 proposals to amend Appendices I and II were on the agenda (the full program of the conference can be found here). Many proposals to include animal species in the CITES Appendices or to strengthen the protective status of species were accepted, some even by consensus (i.e. without the need for a vote). From an animal and species protection point of view, this is a great success. For example, the signatory states decided to add giraffes to Appendix II and thus place the animals under the provisions of CITES for the first time. This means that it is now possible to monitor trade in giraffes more closely. The following species are now also covered by the CITES scope of
application or have had their protection status strengthened: Asian
small-clawed and smooth-coated otters, mako sharks, guitar- and
wedgefish, as well as three species of teatfish. Unfortunately, Costa
Rica's proposal to include glass frogs in Appendix II failed to achieve
the necessary two-thirds majority.
Moreover, various proposals concerning the protection status of African
elephants were dealt with. Two proposals called for an easing and one
proposal called for a strengthening of the protection of certain
populations of African elephants.