These committees of experts were established 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 and scientific support to decision-making about these species.
The Animals and Plants Committees generally meet once a year. They report to the Conference of the Parties at its meetings and, if so requested, provide advice to the Standing Committee between such meetings. Members of the Animals and Plants Committees are also selected on a regional basis, although membership is by named individual (and not country); all Parties can attend the meetings, as well as approved NGOs.
Appendix I lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants. They are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research. In these exceptional cases, trade may take place provided it is authorized by the granting of both an import permit and an export permit (or re-export certificate). Additionally Article VII of the Convention provides for exemptions to this prohibition and these requirements.
Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled. It also includes so-called "look-alike species", i.e. species of which the specimens in trade look like those of species listed for conservation reasons.
Appendix III is a list of species included at the request of a Party that already regulates trade in the species and that needs the cooperation of other countries to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation. International trade in specimens of species listed in this Appendix is allowed only on presentation of the appropriate permits or certificates.
All species which although not necessarily now threatened with extinction may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between Governments. The aim of the Convention is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival in the wild.
Conference of the Parties. The CITES treaty requires that the Parties meet every two years, although there is discussion that following CoP13 (Bangkok, October 2-14, 2004) the CITES Parties may meet every three years at a CoP (technically this could change). During this two-week long meeting, the Parties:
review progress in the conservation of species included in the Appendices;
consider (and where appropriate adopt) proposals to amend the lists of species in Appendices I and II (adding, transferring or removing from the Appendices);
consider discussion documents and reports from the Secretariat, Parties, permanent committees or other working groups;
recommend measures to improve the effectiveness of the Convention; and
make provisions (including the adoption of a budget) necessary to allow the Secretariat to function effectively.
Attendees at a CITES CoP include delegations from the Parties, representatives of the CITES Secretariat and UNEP, representatives of Intergovernmental Organizations (e.g., IUCN), representatives of other international treaties with which CITES cooperates (e.g., CMS, CBD), non-Party countries (as observers) and approved international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who attend as observers. NGOs are permitted to participate actively in the workings of a CoP, including intervening during committee and Plenary sessions, and active participation in working groups.
ETIS stands for the Elephant Trade Information System. It is a comprehensive information system to track illegal trade in ivory and other elephant products. It shares the same objectives as those set out for MIKEwith the difference that its aim is to record and analyse levels and trends in illegal trade, rather than the illegal killing of elephants.
The central component of ETIS is a database on seizures of elephant specimens that have occurred anywhere in the world since 1989. The seizure database is supported by a series of subsidiary database components that assess law enforcement effort and efficiency, rates of reporting, domestic ivory markets and background economic variables. These database components are time-based and country-specific and are used to mitigate factors that cause bias in the data and might otherwise distort the analytical results. The subsidiary database components also assist in interpreting and understanding the results of the ETIS analyses. Since its inception, ETIS has been managed by TRAFFIC on behalf of the CITES Parties and is currently housed at the TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa office in Harare, Zimbabwe.
MIKE stands for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants. The overall goal of MIKE is to provide information needed for elephant range States to make appropriate management and enforcement decisions, and to build institutional capacity within the range States for the long-term management of their elephant populations.
More specific objectives within this goal are:
to measure levels and trends in the illegal hunting of elephants;
to determine changes in these trends over time; and
to determine the factors causing or associated with such changes, and to try and assess in particular to what extent observed trends are a result of any decisions taken by the Conference of the Parties to CITES.
The first session of the Plenary opens the CoP, establishes the rules of procedure, and adopts the CoP agenda and working programs. The CoP then breaks into committees where most of the issues for consideration of the Parties are discussed. Although the committees make recommendations to the Plenary, the Plenary is the only forum where amendments, decisions and resolutions are actually approved. The Plenary meets again near the end of the CoP to resolve outstanding issues, adopt recommendations from the committees, select the host country of the next CoP, and close the meeting.
The Standing Committee provides the Secretariat with policy and operational direction concerning CITES implementation and oversees the management of the Secretariat's workplan and budget. It also coordinates and oversees, where required, the work of other committees and working groups; undertakes tasks as directed to by the Conference of the Parties; as well as preparing draft resolutions for consideration by the Conference of the Parties.
The Standing Committee meets between CoPs as well as immediately before and after each CoP.
The members of the Standing Committee are countries (as opposed to specific individuals). The voting members of the Committe are those Parties that have been chosen as representatives of the six major geographical regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Central and South America and the Caribbean, and Oceania), with the number of representatives weighted according to the number of Parties within the region.