These committees of experts were established at the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Ottawa, 1987) to fill gaps in biological and other specialized knowledge regarding species of animals and plants that are (or might become) subject to CITES trade controls. Their role is to provide technical support to decision-making about these species. These two Committees have similar terms of reference, detailed in Resolution Conf. 18.2, Annex 2, which include inter alia
- providing scientific advice and guidance to the Conference of the Parties, the other committees, working groups and the Secretariat;
- dealing with nomenclatural issues;
- undertaking periodic reviews of species, in order to ensure appropriate categorization in the CITES Appendices;
- advising when certain species are subject to unsustainable trade and recommending remedial action (through a process known as the ’Review of Significant Trade’); and
- drafting resolutions on animal and plant matters for consideration by the Conference of the Parties.
The Animals and Plants Committees meet twice between meetings of the Conference of the Parties. They report to the Conference of the Parties at its meetings and, if so requested, provide advice to the Standing Committee between such meetings. More information about the meetings of the Animals Committee and Plants Committee are available on this site.
The members of the Animals and Plants Committees are individuals from the six major geographical regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Central and South America and the Caribbean, and Oceania) as well as one specialist on nomenclature on each of the two committees. They are elected at the meetings of the Conference of the Parties, with the number of regional representatives weighted according to the number of Parties within each region and according to the regional distribution of biodiversity. As in the Standing Committee, there is an elected alternate member for each of the six regions who represents the region at meetings when the relevant member is unable to attend. A Chair and Vice-Chair are elected by the regional members of the committees. The specialists on zoological and botanical nomenclature have no voting rights. They were integrated into the two scientific committees at the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (The Hague, 2007), following the decision to dissolve the Nomenclature Committee. Information on past Nomenclature Committee meetings can be accessed here.
Any Party may be represented at a meeting of either committee as an observer and the Chair may invite any person or organization to participate, also as an observer.
The Animals Committee may establish such working groups as may be necessary to carry out its functions. Guidance for the chairs of intersessional and in-session working groups is available here.