Convention on International Trade in endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora [CITES]

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 25, 2022, 7:51

The Convention on International Trade in endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement that aims to preserve the endangered plants and animals by making the international trade of these species more secure and waiving off any survival threat them. It was globally adopted by the governments of several countries in 1963 during the IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, meeting, but it was enforced in power in July 1975.

One of the oldest and the most sustainable global agreements, CITES participating 183 countries respect the framework and strategies adopted for the common goal of preserving more than 35000 flora and fauna species and implementing it successfully on the national level.

Important Facts About Cites

  • The administration office of CITES is in Geneva, Switzerland, under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • India hosted the 3rd meeting of CITES in 1981, while the last was held in Johannesburg in 2016.
  • The Convention of Parties to CITES has the supreme decision-making rights, but it does not hold any place in the National laws of any participating country.
  • Every participating country is expected to work within the strategies and framework of CITES and adapt its national legislation to implement it at domestic levels.
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  • Any amendments to the CITES should be done unanimously with the support of at least 2/3rd of the total participating countries.
  • Special permits and certificates are required for trading with non-parties.
  • It is also known as the Washington Convention.
  • As of 2018, the Secretary-General of the CITES Secretariat is Ivonne Higuero

Appendices of CITES

Depending on the seriousness of the survival threat, the endangered species of plants and animals are protected from over-exploitation during international trades. However, the species may be interchanged, added, or removed from Appendix I and II only by the conference of the parties. Still, species under Appendix III can be added or removed by any Party unilaterally.

  • CITES Appendix-I mentions the prohibition of the commercial trade of species in danger of extinction. Import, export, and trading can be done with special permission and only when survival is not at stake or risk. For example, red panda Asiatic lions and tigers, gorillas, etc.
  • CITES Appendix-II speaks about the species of flora and fauna that are not endangered for extinction but need special attention and intensive care during the trading without harming their survival. For example, big-leaf mahogany, American Alligators and black bears, etc.
  • CITES Appendix-III mentions the species preserved and protected at least in one country. Under special regulations and strategies, export and import need special permits. For example, two-toed sloths, African Civet, etc.
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FAQs on CITES

Q1. What is the full form of CITES?

Ans: The full form of CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Q2. Who is the secretariat of CITES?

Ans: As recorded in 2018, The Secretary-General of the CITES Secretariat is Ivonne Higuero.

Q3. When did India host the CITES Convention of Parties (COP) meeting?

Ans: India hosted the 3rd COP meeting of the CITES in 1981.

Q4. Where is the headquarters of CITES?

Ans: The main administration office of CITES is located in Geneva, Switzerland, under the aegis of its UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) Wing.