eCITES

What is eCITES?

Electronic CITES includes electronic application and issuance of CITES permits, control and authentication of CITES permits, reporting as well as electronic exchange of permits (permit information) between the Parties.

Objective

The objective of electronic CITES or eCITES is to improve the implementation of the Convention by using modern Information and Communication Technologies to simplify compliant trade and to combat illegal trade. It is important to note that digitalization of procedures and electronic information exchange is not an objective in itself, but rather a tool to simplify and improve the work of Management Authorities and other agencies to implement the Convention.

Why is it needed?

The electronic permits together with simpler and automated trade procedures help government agencies to better target their inspections and identify those actors that break the law. Implementation of eCITES facilitates collaboration and electronic information exchange with Customs and other border control agencies for efficient control of CITES trade. Parties will benefit from increased transparency, prevention of fraudulent permits, faster and more robust reporting and better data to decide on non-detriment findings. Finally, simplified and automated procedures could create new business opportunities for compliant traders and rural communities.

Resolutions and Decisions

Current work

UNCTAD eCITES BaseSolution Website

Revision of the eCITES Toolkit

Task Force on eCITES EPIX - Meeting of 6 July 2022 

 

Tools and resources

National eCITES: current status

The designations employed and the presentation of the material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the CITES Secretariat, UNEP or the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

 

**Last updated on 16.06.2021. Based on oral communication by the CITES Secretariat; please contact [email protected] for any corrections/updates.**

Overview of eCITES governance, tools and implementation support

Governance: The Convention, through the Resolutions and Decisions adopted by the Conference of Parties based on the recommendations of the Working Group on electronic Systems and Information Technology provides standards for eCITES implementation and ensures that Parties can take advantage of modern eBusiness approaches to implement the Convention.

Tools: The Working Group and the Secretariat publish standards and tools that support parties in the implementation and foster compatibility and information exchange of eCITES systems.

Implementation support: The secretariat provides advisory services and capacity building to Parties. It works with a technology provider to provide Parties with low cost and off the shelf solutions such as the UNCTAD eCITES system. It also supports the implementation of eCITES in partnership with other international or regional organizations.

Governance

The CITES Intersessional Working Group on electronic Systems and Information Technology (SC69 to SC74)

The At its 72nd meeting, the Standing Committee re-established the intersessional working group on electronic systems and information technologies. (28 August 2019, Geneva, Switzerland) with the following membership:

Switzerland (Chair), Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Canada, China, the European Union, Georgia, Germany, Kenya, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America and Zimbabwe; the Economic Commission for Europe, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre; the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); Americas Fur Resource Council, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Born Free Foundation, Environmental Investigation Agency USA, International Wood Products Association, Ivory Education Institute, San Diego Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society and World Animal Protection.

The Working Group was chaired by, Mathias Loertscher, Head, CITES MA Switzerland. 

CITES Electronic Permit Information eXchange (EPIX) Task Force

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) established an EPIX Task Force to provide a forum where Parties could continue to share experiences and information related to the piloting and testing of electronic CITES permit information exchange and to network with other interested Parties. The Task Force convened by UNECE is chaired by the Chair of the working group on electronic systems and information technologies.

Tools 

eCITES Implementation Framework

The eCITES Implementation Framework provides national project managers with a best practice approach to plan and manage the automation of their CITES processes. A standard implementation approach using a tested framework greatly reduces eCITES project’s risks and costs and achieves improved results and synergies at the regional and global level. The Framework was developed by experienced project managers taking into account lessons learned from similar eGovernment projects around the world.

The eCITES Implementation Framework implements four pillars:

  • Automation of the CITES permit issuance process in the Management Authorities, including electronic application of CITES permits; transparent and automated controls during inspection, approval and issuance of all permits; electronic payment of fees and electronic repository of all valid permits.
  • Electronic information exchange of CITES permits with customs authorities, automated risk assessment and targeted inspections for export, import and transit and coordinated border controls.
  • Automated generation of reports and statistics to monitor legality and sustainability of trade, including CITES annual trade reports.
  • Electronic exchange of CITES permit information between Government authorities of export, import and transit countries to prevent use of forged documents and establish end-to-end control of trade. 

Each pillar of the Framework is a sub-project with defined outcomes and benefits. Parties can implement eCITES pillars in a stepwise approach and according to its own readiness. 

 

ePermitting Toolkit

The CITES ePermitting Toolkit was developed by CITES Secretariat and the Working Group to support Parties in the implementation of electronic Permitting systems. The first version was presented on the CoP 15 (Doha 2010). The Annex of the CITES electronic toolkit was updated in 2013 to include new electronic permitting standards and norms developed by UN/CEFACT and WCO.

The first three chapters of the Toolkit provide background information on the use of electronic Business solutions for CITES permitting. Readers should be aware that since its drafting in 2009 eBusiness technologies and practices have considerably evolved and the topics in the three chapters do not reflect these changes. 

The Annex of the Toolkit contains the normative part of the Toolkit. It provides a data model and the message specifications in UN/EDIFACT and XML format for electronic CITES permits.  The message formats are given in the UN/CEFACT Core Component Library (CCL) standard (ISO 15000 suite of standards) and in the WCO Data Model standard.

The Schema for the electronic CITES permit (toolkit version 2) can be downloaded here. Parties can use the eCITES validation Web Portal to validate a CITES XML permit against the CITES Toolkit Version 2 XML Schema. The service is provided out of courtesy by GEFEG GmbH Germany. 

Implementation support

The CITES Secretariat is ready to provide advisory services and support for implementation of eCITES, subject to availability of funding. It works with various partners to promote and expand the use of digital solutions for advancing eCITES. For information and support, please write to [email protected].

ASYCUDA eCITES system: Cloud based electronic permitting by UNCTAD  

The ASYCUDA eCITES system (previously referred to as “aCITES”) is an off-the-shelf software solution for electronic permit management and exchange. The system is jointly developed by the Secretariat and the UNCTAD ASYCUDA programme and implements the three main pillars of the eCITES Implementation Framework. Its development is governed by a joint MoU between the Secretariat and UNCTAD.  

The ASYCUDA eCITES system can be implemented and maintained by a Management Authority as a stand-alone system or, if the national administration uses the ASYCUDA customs system, as a component of this Customs system.

To provide access to electronic Permit solutions for many of the 193 Parties that have low permit volumes, the Secretariat and UNCTAD have now developed the eCITES BaseSolution, a cloud-based release of the ASYCUDA eCITES system which provides electronic permit processing functionality to Parties while the technical infrastructure of the server is maintained by UNCTAD experts.  The system is virtually maintenance free for the Management Authorities and does not require advanced technical expertise or IT systems.

Parties can implement the ASYCUDA eCITES in the framework of a technical cooperation project with UNCTAD.

List of resources relating to eCITES

Document

Synopsis with regard to eCITES domain

CoP18 side-event documents

SC70 Inf. 7

  • Cloud based electronic permit processing: UNCTAD eCITES BaseSolution
  • Secure exchange of CITES permits in a Blockchain Presentations now online

Summary and recommendations of the workshop on customs control of trade in CITES-listed species: Trends, technologies and opportunities for improved trade and regulatory control (23-25 May 2018, University of Gibraltar)

SC70 Inf. 8 EPIX onboarding: Simplifying the implementation of electronic permit information exchanges between Parties
SC70 Inf.9  Development of Electronic Permit Information Exchange (EPIX) for CITES 
ASYCUDA eCITES  Programme of side event during SC69 on 28.11.2017, 12:30 to 14:00 Room 6 
WG meeting agenda Draft agenda for the 1st meeting of the Working Group on electronic Systems and Information Technology, 29.11.2017 18:00 to 19:20, Geneva, ICC,  Room 5  
SC69 Inf.1 Questionnaire on electronic systems and information technologies for CITES management (eCITES) (submitted by the Secretariat) and additional information provided by Parties
SC69 Doc.40 Report to the SC69
CITES Convention

 

The Convention establishes a system of Permits to regulate trade in endangered species listen in the three Appendices of the Convention. Article VI of the Convention focuses on permit requirements. Article VIII requires Parties to send permit information in their national reports on CITES trade to the Secretariat.

Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP17)

 

Provides detailed recommendations and specifications for CITES permits and certificates. It establishes the equivalent of paper and electronic permits, recommends business processes for permit issuance and exchange, use of international standards, authentication and signatures, data semantics and code lists. CoP Decision 15.54 encourages parties to use the CITES electronic permitting toolkit. Annex 2 of Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP17) provides several standard forms.

The CITES electronic permitting toolkit provides standards for electronic CITES permits, in particular data model and Schema for electronic CITES permits based on UN/CEFACT Core Component Library it’s mapping to the WCO Data Model. The CoP recommends Parties to apply to the toolkit. The toolkit can be downloaded as PDF.

Resolution Conf. 11.17 (Rev. CoP 17)

 

Provides details on the preparation and submission of the annual national reports required in Article VIII. Urges parties to submit their reports in accordance with the Guidelines for the preparation and submission of CITES annual reports and the use of the CITES Toolkit

Guidelines for the preparation and submission of CITES annual reports

Describes structure, data elements, codes and the format of annual reports. As the information in an annual report is a subset of the data contained in the CITES permits this document also provides further specifications for data to be used in CITES permits.

Decision 17.156

Requests Parties to inform the Secretariat regarding planned and ongoing projects related to electronic systems for CITES trade.

Decision 17.157

Requests the Standing Committee to re-establish the Woking Group on Electronic Systems and Information technologies and provides the terms of reference for this group.

Decision 17.158

Requests the Standing Committee to monitor progress of implementation of electronic systems and the work of the Working Group and provide recommendations and suggestions for revision of Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP17) and Resolution Conf. 11.17 (Rev. CoP17) to the 18th meeting of the Conference of Parties as deemed necessary.

Decision 17.159

Requests the Secretariat to publish information on planned and ongoing projects of Parties on its website, to liaise with Management Authorities, donor agencies and other stakeholders and to provide capacity building and advisory services.

Automation of CITES permit procedures

Briefing paper for decision makers; Summarizes eCITES tools and instruments. Available from the Secretariat.

eCITES Implementation Framework

Provides national project managers with a best practice approach to plan and manage the automation of their CITES processes. Available from the Secretariat; version reviewd by WG on electronic Systems and Information Technologies

UNCTAD eCITES software solution

An eCITES off-the-shelf software solution available to Parties. UNCTAD makes the system available to Parties in the framework of a technical cooperation project. UNCTA eCITES provides full automation of all CITES permitting processes including automated risk management, electronic payment, Customs data exchange and electronic reporting.

eCITES XML validation

Web portal to validate a CITES XML permit against the specification of the ePermitting toolkit. The portal will return a technical compliance assessment.