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International Conventions


Established in 1975, CITES is an international treaty that regulates the trade of endangered species. Administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), it is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.


  • CITES focuses on preventing the endangerment of wildlife and plants through international trade.
  • It strives to strike a balance between species conservation, sustainable use, and economic interests.

What are International Environmental Conventions?

  • International environmental conventions are binding agreements among states to collectively tackle significant environmental issues.
  • Achieving consensus among sovereign states with varying interests requires substantial effort to take unified action.
  • The proliferation of these agreements in recent decades reflects the global and regional efforts to address international environmental challenges.

Permit System and Monitoring

Permit system: CITES functions under a comprehensive permit system, necessitating participating nations to issue official permits or certificates for the import, export, or re-export of species listed under CITES. This meticulous system ensures strict regulation and documentation for the international trade of protected species, contributing to the conservation efforts endorsed by the convention.

Monitoring: Monitoring trade routes is crucial to ensure adherence to permit requirements and detect illegal wildlife trafficking. This involves a comprehensive surveillance system that scrutinizes the movement of goods to safeguard biodiversity and counter illicit activities. Authorities employ various measures, such as technological advancements and international collaboration, to effectively track and address potential threats to wildlife through these trade routes.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), also known as the Biodiversity Convention or UNCBD, is a multilateral treaty.
  • Ratified by 196 countries, the CBD is an international legal instrument.
  • The CBD centers on conserving biological diversity, promoting sustainable use, and ensuring fair sharing of benefits from genetic resource utilization.
  • The primary goal is to foster actions for a sustainable future.
  • The agreement encompasses all habitats, species, and genetic resources.

Under the UNO

  • The UN Charter lacks specific mention of the environment or sustainable development.
  • Both the General Assembly (UNGA) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) address environmental questions.
  • The primary organization within the UN Charter for environmental matters is the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), operating under the UN General Assembly.
  • The Commission on Sustainable Development serves as a platform for countries to discuss environmental issues.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and UN Environment.
  • UN Environment acts as one of several Implementing Agencies for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.

Significance of CITES

  • Global Participation: With 183 countries as signatories (as of September 2021), CITES boasts extensive global reach, rendering its regulations nearly universally applicable and ensuring widespread commitment to wildlife preservation.
  • Preservation Impact: CITES, established in 1975, has played a pivotal role in preserving and recovering endangered species, notably reducing illegal trafficking of animals like tigers, elephants, and rhinoceros.
  • Adaptive Management: CITES employs a flexible mechanism through its appendix system, enabling adaptive management. This system allows species to be moved between Appendix I, II, and III based on changes in their conservation status, ensuring responsive conservation efforts.
  • Awareness Enhancement: CITES has significantly contributed to raising global awareness about the threats posed to biodiversity by unregulated and illegal trade. This heightened awareness has led to broader international efforts focused on wildlife conservation.
  • Robust Regulatory Framework: CITES provides a stringent and legally binding framework for regulating international wildlife trade. This robust structure has played a crucial role in curtailing illicit activities related to the trade of endangered species.

Challenges of CITES Agreement: Enforcement challenges, funding issues, illegal trade, scientific limitations, and political conflicts are critical factors influencing conservation efforts globally.

Way Forward

  • Enforcement Crucial for Wildlife: Emphasizes the vital role of strict enforcement in wildlife conservation laws for effective protection.
  • Corporate Responsibility in Environment: Highlights businesses’ crucial role in environmental protection through adherence to regulations.
  • Development Projects and Wildlife Impact: Explores the environmental consequences of development projects on wildlife and local communities.
  • Public Engagement in Conservation: Underscores the importance of public awareness and community involvement in wildlife conservation efforts.


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) holds immense potential to advance wildlife protection, combat illegal trade, and conserve biodiversity for posterity. Realizing this potential requires stringent measures and concerted efforts to enforce its provisions effectively.

While CITES offers a framework for regulating international wildlife trade, its efficacy hinges on robust implementation. This entails enhancing surveillance, strengthening law enforcement, and fostering international cooperation to address the complexities of illegal trafficking. Additionally, promoting sustainable practices and raising awareness among stakeholders are imperative to maximize CITES’ impact in safeguarding endangered species and preserving ecosystems globally.

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