Compliance, control, and cooperation

The CoP, established under Article XI, is the main body for overseeing the implementation of CITES and for improving compliance with it” The functions assigned to the

CoP are performed in conjunction with the Secretariat, established under Article XII. What warrants attention here are some resolutions and recommendations of the CoP aimed at improving compliance with CITES.

In 2010, at CoP 15, states parties noted that, despite the fact that substantial progress had been made with the national implementation of CITES, approximately half of the parties still lack appropriate measures at the national level for the enforcement of the Convention’s provisions. It therefore directed the Secretariat to identify the states parties whose domestic measures do not provide them with the authority to comply with their core obligations under CITES and to seek from such states parties information indicating the action and time frames they envisage for adopting, as a matter of the highest priority, the measures required for the effective implementation of the Convention. It was also made clear that defaulting members may face compliance measures, including the suspension of trade in certain spe- cies.[1] [2] [3] Information published in 2014 and compiled by the Secretariat showed that

48.3 per cent of states parties had in place legislation that is believed generally to meet the requirements for implementation; 27.2 per cent of states had legislation in place that is believed generally not to meet all the requirements for implementation; and 21.7 per cent of states had legislation in place that is believed generally not to meet the requirements for implementation. At the time 2.8 per cent of the states had legislation pending.44

Over the years the CoP has dealt with a number of issues relating to enforcement and compliance, which, by implication, expose the areas where improvement is expected in the performance by states parties if CITES is to become more effective in combating the illegal wildlife trade. The issues include the strengthening of controls over shipments from producing countries; the strict verification of documents originating from producing countries; the raising of the combating of the illegal wildlife trade as a matter of high priority; the proper training and equipping of wildlife law- enforcement officials; the effective punishment of violators; prompt reply to requests for information by the Secretariat; improved cooperation between Management Authorities and governmental agencies responsible for the enforcement of CITES; improved cooperation and coordination between parties and wildlife law-enforcement agencies within the different regions; the nomination of officials for participation in the Interpol Wildlife Crime Working Group; the establishment of mechanisms for monitoring internet-related wildlife trade; and the development of a comprehensive strategy for border controls, audits, and investigations^5

The increase in the scale of wildlife crime in recent years and the transnational and organised nature of it have also exposed the urgent need for more effective collaboration and cooperation between intergovernmental organisations and enforcement agencies to combat what has become a serious crime, given the threat it poses to the security, political stability, and economies of many countries and regions. To bring coordinated support to wildlife law enforcement an International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) was established in 2010. The Consortium is made up of CITES, Interpol, UNODC, and the WCO, and coordinates global, regional, and national responses to critical issues in wildlife crime.[4]

  • [1] Resolution Conf. 8.4 (Rev. CoP 15). Resolution 8.4 (CoP 1992) ( provides the basis for the CITES national legislation project and aims at assisting states parties inadopting adequate and up-to-date legislative measures for the effective implementation of CITES.
  • [2] See, accessed 1 October 2015.
  • [3] See Willem Wijnstekers, The Evolution of CITES, 9th edn, Budapest, CIC—International Council forGame and Wildlife Conservation, 2011, Ch. 16; and Resolution Conf.11.3 (Rev. CoP 16).
  • [4] For more information on the ICCWC see, accessed16 October 2015.
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