International Affairs
International Affairs
What we do


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a multinational agreement designed to prevent species exploitation, endangerment or complete extinction resulting from international trade. Under this treaty, countries work together to regulate animal and plant species crossing international borders through sale or trade. The goal is to ensure that any trade in protected plant and animal species is sustainable, based on sound biological understanding and principles. Over 160 nations are parties to CITES. The USFWS’ International Program (through the Divisions of Scientific & Management Authority) oversees the implementation of the Convention. The Division of Management Authority develops policies and regulations, interprets resolutions, coordinates with other agencies, and administers permits to help conserve wildlife. The Division of Scientific Authority is responsible for identifying and recommending species for protection through listings in the CITES appendices or a change in their current listing status; evaluating CITES documents and technical proposals for meetings of the Conference of the Parties and of the Animals and Plants Committees (including listing proposals, status reviews, and other technical proposals submitted by other countries); monitoring trade and the status of the species in the wild; and reviewing export/import permit applications.

The Divisions of Management and Scientific Authority implement provisions of other U.S. wildlife trade laws such as the Wild Bird Conservation Act, Lacey Act (injurious wildlife), Marine Mammal Protection Act, U.S. Endangered Species Act, and the Pelly Amendment of the Fisherman's Protective Act. Management Authority also manages a registry of botanical gardens for the placement of CITES confiscated plants.

The United States has a long-standing commitment to assist other nations in the conservation of wildlife species, both those that share or cross United States’ borders and those whose range is on foreign soil. These obligations are contained in numerous treaties, laws, agreements, and cooperative programs with other nations (i.e. Multinational Species Conservation Acts, Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative , U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trilateral Committee, and Ramsar). Because the planet’s wildlife is of aesthetic, recreational, economic, ecological, spiritual, and cultural benefit to all Earth’s inhabitants, and because U.S. consumer habits and policy have implications for wildlife far beyond our own borders, the USFWS’ International Program (Division of International Conservation) is charged with the responsibility of supporting wildlife conservation initiatives around the globe.

The Division of International Conservation cooperates with domestic and foreign governmental agencies, national and international non-governmental conservation organizations, universities, and other interested parties to conserve wildlife and their habitats. This is accomplished by strengthening the capabilities of local institutions to cultivate and train local nationals to effectively manage natural resources by focusing on enforcement of protected areas, buffer zones, and corridors; catalyzing conservation partnerships at local and international levels to raise public awareness; and promoting communication and information exchange among communities, institutions, and countries.

Last updated: January, 21, 2011
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