CITES Standing Committee Weighs Issues of Compliance

Over 700 delegates met in Geneva for five days beginning in late November to deliberate over a full slate of issues at the 77th meeting of the Standing Committee to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). AWI was represented at the meeting by DJ Schubert and Sue Fisher.

photo by Michael
photo by Michael

Compliance matters dominated the committee’s discussion. It approved several recommendations to suspend trade, maintain trade suspensions, or threaten suspensions against nearly two dozen countries failing to comply with CITES with respect to both trade in specific species (e.g., sharks, tigers, parrots, other birds, and elephants) and/or broader implementation matters (e.g., inadequate national laws to implement CITES, failing to comply with certain CITES resolutions, or a wholesale failure to comply with CITES). 

For the illegal trade in totoaba (the fishing of which is also driving the vaquita porpoise to extinction), the committee directed Mexico to continue to report on implementation of its Compliance Action Plan (see AWI Quarterly, summer 2023) and asked the secretariat to conduct missions to Mexico, the United States, and China to review efforts to combat illegal take and trade.

Other critical issues discussed included the illegal trade in great apes and jaguars, the breeding of tigers in captivity for purported conservation purposes, the trade in elephant ivory and live elephants, the role of CITES in reducing the risk of zoonotic diseases linked to wildlife trade, and illegal trade in sharks and rays. 

These and other matters will continue to be discussed intersessionally within various Standing Committee working groups and at the committee’s 78th meeting in February 2025.