What is the CITES Convention for the preservation of species

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The preservation of threatened species of fauna and flora is an important and topical issue in recent times. That is why the affected countries have taken measures not only at an individual level, but also at a global level.

Initiatives such as the CITES Convention, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, are precisely concerned with controlling irregularities and thus preventing endangered species from being endangered.

The Origin of CITES

The CITES Convention (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) was signed on March 3, 1973 in Washington and 21 countries joined. It was not until 1975 that it effectively came into force.

Today, almost all countries in the world are members, a total of 183. Spain joined on May 16, 1986.

At the time this type of agreement was a novelty, since in the 60s, when it began to talk about the preservation of species, the international debate on the need for a regulation of wildlife trade in favor of conservation was not usual.

The preservation of the species

Experts say that the international trade of wildlife reaches a value of several billion euros a year, affecting tens of thousands of species of animals and plants.

CITES has a broad power of action that includes, for example:

  • Live animals and plants, including products derived from them.
  • Leather articles of exotic animals.
  • Bones, ivory and teeth (whether carved or not).
  • Carapace and claws
  • The coral, the eggs and different extracts for different uses.
  • The feathers, scales or hair.
  • The flowers, leaves, roots and rhizomes.
  • The instruments made with certain woods and those same raw woods.
  • Souvenir items for tourists and those for medicinal use of wild origin.

The trade of certain products have made the exploitation levels of some animals and plants unsustainable and commercialization with them has the capacity to significantly reduce populations and even cause some species to be on the verge of extinction.

International trade control

In order to make the international trade in wild animals and plants sustainable, without endangering their survival, the CITES Convention establishes a global network of controls.

This requires the use of official permits to trade in endangered wild species and other by-products. Therefore, these control mechanisms prohibit trade in endangered species and regulate trade in endangered or threatened species.

There are two main bodies that are responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of the Convention:

The Conference of the Parties

It is the highest organ of the Convention and groups all the member States. Every 2 or 3 years is responsible for bringing all the Parties together in ordinary session. Extraordinary meetings may also be held when requested by at least one third of the Parties.

The Secretariat of the CITES Convention

It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is administered by the United Nations and financed by contributions from the Parties. The mission of the Secretariat is to act as liaison agent for the exchange of information between the different States and with other authorities and organizations.

According to the Convention it is necessary to request export permits in the country of origin and import prior to the exchange of any specimen. Also, the issuance of certificates for the planned exceptions and the application of stricter national legislations is contemplated, as is the case of the European Union.

The system established by CITES allows all merchandise to be duly documented and to know the origin, destination and commercialization reasons.

However, the Convention considers other control actions necessary, such as:

  • The appointment of one or more Administrative Authorities.
  • The appointment of one or more Scientific Authorities.
  • The establishment of the entry points authorized by each Country Party.