National laws for implementing the Convention

National laws for implementing CITES is critical to ensure that trade in protected species is legal, sustainable and traceable. Legislation empowers government officials to act, regulates human behaviour and articulates policy in relation to conservation and trade in wildlife. 

Although CITES is legally binding on States it is generally not self-executing. This means that it cannot be fully implemented until specific domestic measures have been adopted for that purpose. It is therefore absolutely essential that CITES Parties have legislation in place allowing them to implement and enforce all aspects of the Convention.

Only through adequate legislation which is permanently up to date and efficiently enforced, both at the borders and within countries, can CITES really work. Adequate national legislation is key to effective wildlife trade controls by the State agencies charged with implementing and enforcing the Convention. It is also a vital prerequisite for ensuring that a State Party complies with the provisions of the Convention. 

Reports and Notifications by the CITES Secretariat

National Legislation Project

The National Legislation Project is the Convention’s primary mechanism for encouraging and assisting Parties’ legislative efforts.

Resolution Conf. 8.4 (Rev. CoP15) on National laws for implementation of the Convention directs the Secretariat, within available resources, to identify those Parties whose domestic measures do not provide

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Legislative guidance materials

It is the prerogative of each Party to decide how it incorporates CITES obligations into national legislation, taking into account its needs and legal practice. The provisions of the Convention and Resolution Conf. 8.4 (Rev. CoP15) only provide a broad framework, 

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List of materials

Legislative status map

Legislative status table could be accessed by clicking here
Map legend: Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Recent Parties

Targeted support to Parties

Pursuant to CITES resolutions and decisions and following the call from the UN Secretary General to strengthen the UN System response to tackling illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, UNEP and the CITES Secretariat have developed a collaborative initiative to provide assistance to priority countries and territories, upon their request, to enhance their legislation. 

This includes the provision of targeted legal advice on the basic legislative requirements, compilation of examples of best legislation, drafting support and organization of training workshops. In the context of this project, CITES and UNEP organized a joint legislative workshop in Nairobi in April 2016.  The joint workshop report is available here. A second joint workshop was held in Abidjan on 13-14 February 2017 with the support of the UNEP Sub-regional Office for West Africa.

In addition, the CITES Secretariat and UNEP are providing individualized technical assistance to a number of Parties. The CITES Secretariat is currently providing assistance to Comoros, Mauritania, Niger and Saint Lucia, while UNEP is supporting Angola. In the past, a number of other Parties have received assistance from the Secretariat. 

Detailed requests for assistance from Parties with legislation in Category 2 or 3 can be addressed to the CITES Secretariat.

Examples of CITES national legislation

The following CITES laws and regulations are provided as examples and inspiration to Parties that are preparing or amending their CITES legislation. They have been placed in Category 1 under the National Legislation Project. More examples are being added to this list. 

Malaysia        International Trade in Endangered Species Act, 2008
                         International Trade in Endangered Species  (Permit, Certificate, Registration and Fees) Regulations 2009                       
                         International Trade in Endangered Species  (Rescue Centre) Regulations 2009                       
                         International Trade in Endangered Species (Compounding of Offenses) Regulations 2010

Morocco       Loi No 29-05 relative à la protection des espèces de flore et de faune sauvages et au contrôle de leur commerce    
                        Décret No 2-12-484 pris pour l'application de la loi No 29-05

Namibia         Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade Act, 2008 (Act No. 9 of 2008) of the Parliament

New Zealand Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989 (Act 1989 No 18)

For more CITES related legislation as well as court decisions and other materials, please visit ECOLEX or InforMEA

Other guidance and support

CITES Virtual College features training materials on specific aspects of the Conventions, such as  role and tasks of Management Authorities and Scientific Authorities, important CITES definitions, permits and certificates, exemptions and special procedures etc.