The international trade in wild animals and plants is worth billions of dollars every year. Levels of exploitation and rates of wild capture can have a serious detrimental impact on the future survival of thousands of animal and plant species across the globe.
The United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments, which provides varying levels of protection for species that are or may be in danger of extinction from international trade.
179 countries (or ‘Parties’) are members of CITES. It is viewed by many as the world's most important Multilateral Environmental Agreement, and is legally binding upon the Parties. Contraventions of the Convention can lead to trade suspensions and can have a seriousCITES national ivory action plans (NIAPs) are a practical tool that is being used by the Convention in a number of its member States, categorised as Parties of ‘primary concern’, Parties of ‘secondary concern’ and Parties of ‘importance to watch’, to strengthen their controls of the trade in ivory and ivory markets, and help combat the illegal trade in ivory. These NIAPs were developed in compliance with recommendations endorsed by the CITES Standing Committee.
Each plan outlines the urgent measures that a CITES Party commits to deliver – including legislative, enforcement and public awareness actions as required – along with specified timeframes and milestones for implementation.
While the plans may follow a common formula of actions, timeframes and milestones, each national ivory action plan is unique. A plan should identify the actions that are of highest priority for a particular Party to help combat the illegal ivory trade, depending upon the Party’s own circumstances including its capacity-building needs, the extent of available resources, and the scale and nature of illegal trade and whether the Party is a source, transit or destination State for illegal ivory.
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