CITES Conference of the Parties

For the past 40 years, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has sponsored a Conference of the Parties (CoP), a global gathering held every three years to discuss a wide range of issues that have a significant impact on endangered animals and plants.

CITES is an international agreement among governments to ensure that the international commercial trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES has 183 member countries, also known as Parties.

As it has done since 1997, IFAW is sending a team of delegates to the 17th CoP, which takes place this year from September 24 to October 5 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

As observers to the CoP, IFAW reviews and analyzes the proposals under consideration by the CoP, takes positions and makes recommendations.

IFAW supports initiatives under consideration by CITES that would in part:

  • Ensure the closure of domestic markets for ivory trade through the adoption of crucial legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures. (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)
  • Urge all parties to destroy ivory stockpiles wherever feasible and establish a protocol to destroy any ivory acquired in the future. (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)
  • Urge all elephant range States to develop legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures to prevent the illegal and detrimental trade in live elephants. (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)
  • Provide further protection for elephants in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe by transferring these populations from Appendix II to Appendix I. (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)
  • List the African grey parrot on Appendix I to protect populations in western and central Africa from over-exploitation from trade.  IFAW’s position in: (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)
  • Transfer all populations of African lions from Appendix II to Appendix I to ensure protection from unsustainable trade.  IFAW’s position in: (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)
  • Protect all eight species of African and Asian pangolins from current high levels of trade by transferring all eight species from Appendix II to Appendix I.  IFAW’s position in: (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)
  • List all three species of thresher sharks, all nine species of devil rays, and silky sharks to Appendix II to provide further protections from over fishing.  IFAW’s position in: (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)
  • Provide protection from trade for Barbary macaques by transferring all populations from Appendix II to Appendix I.  IFAW’s position in: (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)

IFAW opposes initiatives that would in part:

  • Allow trade in elephant ivory in Namibia and Zimbabwe by deleting the annotations for these countries in the current Appendix II listing of African elephants. IFAW’s position in: (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)
  • Allow trade in southern white rhino horn from Swaziland by altering the existing Appendix II annotation for Swaziland’s population of white rhino. IFAW’s position in: (English) (French) (Spanish) (Arabic)

Three CITES appendices to protect animals

CITES maintains three appendices that provide a level of protection for wild animals and plant life.

On Appendix I are species such as tigers and African elephants that are threatened with extinction. Commercial trade in these species is illegal. On Appendix II are species such the saiga antelope and the white-headed duck that may become extinct unless commercial trade is strictly regulated.

On Appendix III are species such as the alligator snapping turtle and walrus that one Party has asked other CITES Parties for help in controlling the commercial trade of the species. These animals and plants are not necessarily under the threat of becoming extinct.