National laws for implementing the Convention

National laws for implementing CITES is critical to ensure that trade in protected species is legal, sustainable and traceable. Legislation empowers government officials to act, regulates human behaviour and articulates policy in relation to conservation and trade in wildlife. 

Although CITES is legally binding on States it is generally not self-executing. This means that it cannot be fully implemented until specific domestic measures have been adopted for that purpose. It is therefore absolutely essential that CITES Parties have legislation in place allowing them to implement and enforce all aspects of the Convention.

Only through adequate legislation which is permanently up to date and efficiently enforced, both at the borders and within countries, can CITES really work. Adequate national legislation is key to effective wildlife trade controls by the State agencies charged with implementing and enforcing the Convention. It is also a vital prerequisite for ensuring that a State Party complies with the provisions of the Convention. 

National Legislation Project

The National Legislation Project (NLP) is the Convention’s primary mechanism for encouraging and assisting Parties’ legislative efforts. National legislation is to meet the CITES minimum requirements to national legislation as expressed in Resolution Conf. 8.4 (Rev. CoP15).

Parties' national legislation for the implementation of the Convention should provide them with the authority to
i. designate at least one Management Authority and one Scientific Authority
ii. prohibit trade in specimens in violation of the Convention;
iii. penalize such trade: and 
iv. confiscate specimens illegally traded or possessed. 

The legislation is placed in one of three categories. 

See more…

Legislative guidance materials

It is the prerogative of each Party to decide how it incorporates CITES obligations into national legislation, taking into account its needs and legal practice. The provisions of the Convention and Resolution Conf. 8.4 (Rev. CoP15) only provide a broad framework, 

See more…

List of materials

Targeted support to Parties

Pursuant to CITES resolutions and decisions and following the call from the UN Secretary General to strengthen the UN System response to tackling illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, UNEP and the CITES Secretariat have developed a collaborative initiative to provide assistance to priority countries and territories, upon their request, to enhance their legislation. 

This includes the provision of targeted legal advice on the basic legislative requirements, compilation of examples of best legislation, drafting support and organization of training workshops. In the context of this project, CITES and UNEP organized a joint legislative workshop in Nairobi in April 2016.  The joint workshop report is available here. A second joint workshop was held in Abidjan on 13-14 February 2017 with the support of the UNEP Sub-regional Office for West Africa.

In May 2018, the CITES Secretariat organized a workshop for the Central Asian Parties to CITES onStrengthening national frameworks for the effective implementation of CITES. The workshop was co-hosted with the State Agency on Environment Protection and Forestry of the Kyrgyz Republicand and organized in close collaboration with the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme, UNDP in Kyrgyzstan and Panthera and funded by the European Union. It was attended by 38 participants from the Republic of Kazakhstan, Republic of Tajikistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic. The workshop aimed at strengthening the implementation of CITES from a legal, scientific and enforcement perspective through presentations, exercises and exchange of experiences among the participants, focused on matters and species, important to the region. The draft report of the workshop is available here

In addition, the CITES Secretariat and UNEP are providing individualized technical assistance to a number of Parties. The CITES Secretariat is currently providing assistance to Comoros, Mauritania, Niger and Saint Lucia, while UNEP is supporting Angola. In the past, a number of other Parties have received assistance from the Secretariat. 

Detailed requests for assistance from Parties with legislation in Category 2 or 3 can be addressed to the CITES Secretariat.

Other guidance and support

CITES Virtual College features training materials on specific aspects of the Conventions, such as  role and tasks of Management Authorities and Scientific Authorities, important CITES definitions, permits and certificates, exemptions and special procedures etc.