The text of the Convention provides a basic framework for the implementation of CITES. Certain provisions are very broad in nature and need to be complemented by an agreement on how they should be implemented in a harmonized way, for example by the establishment of additional rules or standard procedures. Other provisions leave room for interpretation as to exactly what is intended. As a result, guidance is regularly required to solve problems and to improve the effectiveness of the Convention.
One of the tasks of the Conference of the Parties is to make recommendations to provide such guidance (Article XI, paragraph 3). These recommendations are recorded in one of two ways; either in Resolutions or in Decisions. Of these two types of recommendation, Resolutions are intended to be of a more permanent nature, guiding implementation of the Convention over periods of many years. The Resolutions include the guidance provided by the Conference of the Parties on how to interpret the provisions of the Convention but they also include: the documents establishing the permanent committees; the budgets of the Secretariat; rules for controlling the trade (such as issuing permits and marking specimens in trade); and the texts establishing long-term processes, such as the Review of Significant Trade [see Resolution Conf. 12.8 (Rev. CoP13)].
Any draft resolution to be considered at a meeting of the Conference of the Parties must be submitted to the Secretariat 150 days before the meeting [see Resolution Conf. 4.6 (Rev. CoP16)] so that Parties have time to receive and consider them well in advance.
About 272 Resolutions have been adopted since the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 1976 but only 90 are currently in effect. All Resolutions are numbered and the initial number of each one indicates the meeting of the Conference of the Parties at which it was adopted. For example, Resolution Conf. 3.4 was adopted at the third meeting. If minor amendments are made to a Resolution at a later meeting, this used to be indicated by '(Rev.)' after the number of the Resolution. However, starting with the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP12, Santiago, 2002), the meeting at which they have been revised is now also specified, for instance Resolution Conf. 8.3 (Rev. CoP13).