The Washington Convention (CITES) gives many endangered species of wild fauna and flora a chance of survival.
Over 3,000 animal species and 30,000 plant species threatened by extinction due to international trade are protected thanks to the implementation of the Convention. In Austria, the Convention has been in force since 1982.
How does CITES work?
CITES does not only provide the international legal framework, but also sets out concrete requirements for the procedural implementation of the regulation of import, export and re-export of wild animals and plants, whether alive or dead, as well as of their parts or derivatives. It regulates the trade in over 35,000 animal and plant species which are included in three lists as Appendices I, II and III (Appendix I lists the animal and plant species that are most endangered among CITES-listed species). Every two to three years a Conference of the Parties to the Convention (CoP) is held in which all member states should be represented and where amendments to the Appendices (shifting species to a higher or lower appendix) are adopted and the implementation of the Convention and its working programmes are checked. For the latter, recommendations for more effective measures can be proposed, for example in the form of revised or new resolutions.
Before leaving a country or being imported to another country, endangered animals and plants, or their products, have to go through a system of authorisations and certificates (see “Documents and fees”).
The trade with non-Parties (presently e.g. Serbia and Montenegro, Oman, Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan) is subject to the same restrictions as the trade between Parties to the Convention. However, instead of the required authorisations (the document for a trading activity between an EU member state and a non-EU country) or certificates (trade inside the European Union) similar documents can be accepted, provided they comply with the Convention’s requirements on the granting of authorisations and certificates.
In each country which is Party to the Convention there is a management authority which is the competent coordination body to award authorisations or certificates. According to the provisions of the Convention applications for authorisations and certificates required for import, export or re-export are submitted to a designated scientific authority. Depending on the judgement of the Scientific Authority applications for import, export or re-export will or will not be granted.