CITES annual meeting sees States stepping up action against the over exploitation of precious timber and other species

Updated on 12 January 2021

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CITES annual meeting sees States stepping up action against the overexploitation
of precious timber and other species

World’s governments demonstrate resolve on full compliance with the global wildlife trade treaty

Sochi, 5 October 2018 – The Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) concludes today its 70th meeting, agreeing on concrete measures to achieve full compliance with international wildlife trade regulations. The meeting held in Sochi, Russian Federation, from 1 to 5 October attracted a record number of participants, with over 700 representatives from more than 80 States and over 100 intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

“The CITES Standing Committee dealt with a myriad of wild species and complex issues in the nexus between conservation, trade and development. The seriousness and determination of Parties to bring international wildlife trade rules to their full strength were demonstrated by the frank and constructive debate and decisions made on compliance issues, including the decisions on African rosewood, sei whales, pangolins, elephant ivory and to rectify the mismanagement of trade in CITES-listed species by certain countries”, said David Morgan, Officer-in-Charge of the CITES Secretariat. “This has again shown the real-world impact of CITES when governments around the world are fully committed to respect their obligations under the treaty. The Secretariat commends all Parties on their cooperation and their commitment to implement and enforce the Convention”.

The Standing Committee debated the “introduction from the sea” of sei whales, which is considered as international trade under CITES, from the western North Pacific population by Japan and determined that this activity was for commercial purposes and therefore not in compliance with the Convention. In response to this conclusion, Japan committed to take swift remedial action, and to delay the departure of the concerned research whaling vessels to the western North Pacific and to not authorize any harvest of the sei whales from the high seas in this region until the Standing Committee has assessed Japan's progress in implementing the remedial actions at its next meeting in May 2019. If not satisfied with the action taken, the Committee may take compliance measures.

The compliance measures that the Committee can take include recommendations to suspend trade in some or all CITES-listed species and represent a unique strength of the Convention. The goal of such measures is to achieve long-term and sustained compliance with the Convention thereby ensuring the survival of the species in the wild. In an effort to better achieve the goal and to support countries in achieving full compliance, the Committee agreed that the development of a Compliance Assistance Programme should be considered by the Conference of the Parties in May 2019.

Compliance assistance is already being provided to Lao People's Democratic Republic, another case of non-compliance considered by the Committee at this meeting. While significant efforts have been deployed by Lao PDR to effectively implement and enforce its CITES obligations, the country continues to be affected by illegal trade and faces challenges to ensure that authorized exports are legal and sustainable. The Committee therefore decided to recommend to all Parties that they suspend commercial trade in the high value Siamese rosewood, including finished products, from Lao PDR until it can be scientifically justified that such exports are sustainable. Lao PDR agreed with the recommendations and committed to report on implementation by 1 February 2019.

The Committee also reviewed compliance issues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where considerable progress had been made since the matter was last discussed late in 2017, in particular to address high levels of illegal trade. However, the DRC is still having difficulties to put the proper mechanism in place to ensure that authorized exports are sustainable and was requested to strengthen its Scientific Authorities by building capacity and allocating sufficient modern resources for making the necessary scientific studies to determine how much can be traded without threatening the survival of the species in the wild. Finally, in view of these persistent challenges, the Committee recommended that Parties suspend trade in grey parrots and in pangolins from the DRC.

The last compliance matter considered by the Committee concerned exports of African rosewood from Nigeria. Since the beginning of 2018, Nigeria has authorized over 180,000 m3 of the precious timber to China and Viet Nam, without first making sure that these exports will not threaten the survival of the species. The Committee decided to recommend suspension of commercial trade in this timber species until Nigeria has made a non-detriment finding for the species in the country. 

The meeting of the Standing Committee also agreed to present new or revised resolutions and decisions on a range of issues to the next gathering of the governing body of the Convention, the Conference of the Parties, which will meet for the 18th time in Sri Lanka in May-June 2019 (CoP18). The host of CoP18 attended the meeting in Sochi and told participants that “20 million warm hearts are waiting to meet you in Colombo next year". Sri Lanka also unveiled the logo of CoP18 and the website for CoP18 ( on the last day of this meeting:

The next meeting of the CITES Standing Committee will take place in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 22 May 2019, one day prior to the start of the CoP18.

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With 183 Parties, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) remains one of the world's most powerful tools for wildlife conservation through the regulation of trade. Thousands of species are internationally traded and used by people in their daily lives for food, health care, housing, tourist souvenirs, cosmetics or fashion.

CITES regulates international trade in over 36,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, to ensure their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.

CITES was signed in Washington D.C. on 3 March 1973 and entered into force on 1 July 1975.Learn more about CITES by visiting www.cites.orgor connecting to: