International implementation

The Convention protects over 33,000 species that are listed in three Appendices, which are periodically reviewed. Approximately 28,000 of these are plant species (85%), and around 5,000 are animal species (15%); 97% of CITES-listed species are included in Appendix II.

  • Appendix I: includes animal and plant species at greater risk of extinction. Trade in specimens of these species that are captured or harvested in their natural habitats is prohibited, and is only permitted in exceptional circumstances, e.g., for scientific research, in which case, trade may be authorized by means of an export permit (or re-export certificate) and an import permit.
  • Appendix II: includes species that are not currently at risk of extinction, but which could become endangered unless trade is strictly controlled. Appendix II also includes look-alike species in order to ensure better control of similar protected species that are listed in the CITES Appendices. Trade in animals and plants that are captured or harvested in the wild, born in captivity, or artificially propagated, is permitted provided that certain requirements are met. Any such trade requires an export permit, or re-export certificate.
  • Appendix III: includes species that are subject to regulation within the territory of a country that is a Party to CITES and requires the cooperation of other countries to prevent or restrict the use of such species. A CITES export permit is required when a specimen originates from a country that has requested the inclusion of the species concerned in Appendix III, or otherwise, a certificate of origin issued by the CITES Management Authority in the exporting or re-exporting country.

Amendments to the text of the convention

Amendments to Appendices I and II are decided at the meetings of the Conference of the Parties, which are held every 2 or 3 years and attended by all countries that are Parties to the Convention. Amendments to Appendix III are decided by each Party in respect of species that are native to its country; such amendments may be adopted at any time, and are published by the CITES Secretariat on the CITES website in the form of Notifications to the Parties.

The text of the CITES Convention has been amended twice. The amendments are referred to by the name of the place in which the respective meetings of the Conference of the Parties were held: the Bonn Amendment (1979), and the Gabarone (1983) Amendment.

As provided by Article XVII, paragraph 3, of the Convention, amendments come into force 60 days after two-thirds of the States, who were Parties to the CITES Convention on the date on which the amendment was adopted, have deposited their instruments of acceptance of said amendment. The amendment shall become effective solely for those States that have accepted the amendment (regardless of the date on which the State became a Party to the Convention). Nonetheless, the amended text shall apply automatically to any State that becomes a Party after the date on which the amendment comes into force.

Consult the full text of The CITES Convention including the two amendments currently in force

  • Bonn Amendment:

    In 1979, at the first extraordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Bonn, Germany), paragraph 3 a) of Article XI was amended to allow the CoP to adopt financial provisions. This Amendment came into force on 13th April 1987.

  • Gaborone Amendment:

    On 30th April 1983, at an extraordinary meeting held in Gabarone (Botswana), the Conference of the Parties adopted an Amendment to Article XXI of the Convention to include five paragraphs (paragraphs 2 to 6). The purpose of this amendment was to permit organizations for regional economic integration such as the EU to join the Convention.

    On 30th September 2013 —thirty years after the Gaborone Amendment was adopted— Costa Rica submitted its instrument of acceptance, whereby 54 of the 80 States that were Parties to CITES as of 30th April 1983 (i.e., two-thirds) had accepted the amendment. This meant that the amendment came into force on 29th November 2013 for the aforementioned 54 States, and likewise, for the 43 States who became Parties to CITES subsequent to 30th April 1983 and accepted the amendment. Nonetheless, there are currently 80 States that are Parties to the Convention that have not yet accepted this amendment.

    Spain deposited its instrument of acceptance of the Gaborone Amendment on 15th January 1991; accordingly, the amendment became effective for all EU Member States on 29th November 2013.

    The EU, with 28 Member States which are already a Party to CITES in their own right, becomes the first Regional Economic Integration Organization to accede to the Convention since the coming into effect of the Gaborone amendment to the text of the Convention on 29/11/2013. Therefore, the EU becomes the 181st Party to CITES and the Convention will enter into force for the European Union on 08/07/2015.

    This amendment permitted the accession of any Regional Economic Integration Organization constituted by sovereign States which have competence in respect of the negotiation, conclusion and implementation of international agreements in matters transferred to them by their Member States and covered by the Convention.

    Communications from the CITES Secretariat concerning the EU as Contracting Party to the Convention should be addressed to the European Commission. The EU Commission will transmit to the competent authorities of the Member States these official communications.