The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), DSWF works on various wildlife trade issues, sending qualified representatives to international meetings to lobby on issues such as the trade-in wildlife parts and compliance and enforcement issues.

We fund an expert team that includes Dr. Roz Reeve, one of the most respected and experienced environmental lawyers operating in this field, who advises and represents DSWF at the highest level of international engagement

What is CITES?

CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

How does CITES work?

CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction of species covered by the Convention has to be authorised through a licensing system. Each Party, which are the individual member countries to the Convention, must designate one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species.

How are endangered species classified?

The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection required.

Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.

Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, who have asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.

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What is the Conference of the Parites?

“The Conference of the Parties (CoP), is the main decision-making body of the Convention and is made up of all its Parties. For more information regarding CITES, please visit their official website here.”

What does DSWF do at CITES?

At regular CITES meetings, DSWF leads a team of expert campaigners, lawyers, biologists and fellow conservationists to fight for the toughest protection possible for elephants in the international arena. They also work with conservation colleagues to focus on a number of other endangered species who need protection and where trade is considered, driving them close to extinction.

Ivory Trade

DSWF has played a pivotal role in regard to elephant conservation at CITES for many decades. 

We were a key part of the team who ensured that the closure of domestic ivory markets worldwide was recognised as a vital step in ensuring the survival of the species and continue to lobby for stronger international policy to reflect this. 

DSWF is an NGO partner of the Africa Elephant Coalition (AEC), a consortium of 32 member countries and elephant range states whose mission is to ensure that there is a healthy and viable elephant population, free of threats from the international ivory trade.  

We have helped ensure that the international trade in ivory is not re-opened. In addition, we have helped support the development of new comprehensive guidelines on stockpiles and their management to re-emphasise our view regarding the destruction of stockpiles as a positive signal that ivory should not be given a commercial price tag and that the only worthwhile value of ivory is to an elephant itself.

ivory burn photograph

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