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CITES — Washington Convention

Topics covered:

Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


CITES — Washington Convention


What to study?

For Prelims and mains: CITES- key facts.


Context: A resolution calling for Japan and the European Union (EU) to close their legal domestic ivory markets was not adopted at the ongoing 18th Conference of Parties (CoP18) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva on August 21, 2019.



Currently, EU regulations afford too many opportunities for criminals to pass off ivory from poached elephants as antiques and export to other markets around the world.

Legal ivory markets and a lack of action against large illegal markets in certain countries continue to provide opportunities for criminal syndicates to traffic ivory.


About Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES):

  1. It is an International agreement to regulate worldwide commercial trade in wild animal and plant species
  2. It restricts trade in items made from such plants and animals, such as food, clothing, medicine, and souvenirs.
  3. It was signed on March 3, 1973 (Hence world wildlife day is celebrated on march 3).
  4. It is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  5. Secretariat— Geneva (Switzerland).
  6. CITES is legally binding on state parties to the convention, which are obliged to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals.



It classifies plants and animals according to three categories, or appendices, based on how threatened. They are.

  1. Appendix I: It lists species that are in danger of extinction. It prohibits commercial trade of these plants and animals except in extraordinary situations for scientific or educational reasons.
  2. Appendix II species: They are those that are not threatened with extinction but that might suffer a serious decline in number if trade is not restricted. Their trade is regulated by permit.
  3. Appendix III species: They are protected in at least one country that is a CITES member states and that has petitioned others for help in controlling international trade in that species.


Sources: down to earth.