CITES Compliance procedures

CITES is known as a Convention with effective compliance processes. ‘Compliance’ in the context of CITES means to act in accordance with and in fulfilment of the Convention requirements – legal as well as scientific. Compliance or ‘abide by the rules’ is the primary responsibility of the Parties and a core business of the Convention. Parties are bound by the Convention and must have an administrative and regulatory system in place to ensure that the Convention achieves its objectives of conservation and sustainable use. When Parties fail to effectively fulfil the Convention requirements, they may become subject to one or more compliance measures, including trade suspensions. The costs of non-compliance can be high for the survival of entire species populations.
 

CITES approach to compliance

CITES’ approach towards compliance matters is “supportive and non-adversarial” with the aim of ensuring long-term compliance. Resolution Conf. 14.3 (Rev. CoP18) contains, in its Annex, a Guide to CITES compliance procedures to assist CITES bodies in dealing with compliance matters. There are four steps for handling compliance matters in a diligent manner:
a) identification of potential compliance matters;
b) consideration of compliance matters;
c) measures to achieve compliance; and
d) monitoring and implementation of such measures and reporting.

Compliance Assistance Programme

At CoP18, the Parties established a new Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) aimed at providing targeted support to Parties facing persistent compliance challenges. If a Party is facing compliance challenges, it is invited to approach the CITES Secretariat for advice and guidance.

More information about the CAP available here.

Identification of CITES compliance matters

Many compliance matters are identified through monitoring processes established by Resolutions, adopted by the Conference of the Parties. Where a compliance matter is persistent, or a Party is subject to two or more of these processes, it may be handled under Article XIII of the Convention.

Article XIII processes

Triggering Article XIII is considered to be a serious indication of apparent systemic or structural problems with the implementation and enforcement of the Convention. An Article XIII process will often include an inquiry being carried out by the Secretariat in the country concerned, upon invitation from the Party, leading to detailed recommendations being made by the Secretariat on actions to be taken by the Party. Such recommendations will cover all issues relevant for the effective implementation of the Convention. A number of Parties have been or are subject to an Article XIII process. Parties currently subject to the Article XIII process are the following: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Madagascar and Nigeria.
 
For information about the identified compliance matters and the recommendations and compliance measures taken by the Standing Committee in each case, please see the documents of the Standing Committee.

Recommendations to suspend trade

In certain cases, the Standing Committee decides to recommend the suspension of commercial or all trade in specimens of one or more CITES-listed species with a Party that is considered to be in non-compliance, consistent with the Convention. Such a recommendation may be made in cases where a Party’s compliance matter is unresolved and persistent, and the Party is showing no or little intention to achieve compliance. A recommendation to suspend trade is always specifically and explicitly based on the Convention and on any applicable Resolutions of the Conference of the Parties as mentioned in the box on compliance processes above. 
Current recommendations to suspend trade may be found on the dedicated webpage: /eng/resources/ref/suspend.php