And just what is a CITES CoP, you might ask?
Delegates from around the globe will converge on the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, for the world’s most influential meeting on international wildlife trade -- a meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, otherwise known as CITES.
March 3, 2013, marks not only the start of CoP16, but also the 40th anniversary of CITES.
Until the early 1960s, trade in wild animals and plants focused on fulfilling consumer demand with little regard for its impact on the long-term survival of species. But, as international discussions turned to this unregulated trade and the threat that it posed to wildlife, a paradigm shift began to occur.
U.S. Delegation to CoP1 in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo: USFWS)
Forty years ago, representatives from 80 countries came together in Washington, D.C. to agree on the final text of a convention to regulate international wildlife trade. After discussing the language of CITES for three weeks, the Convention was signed, establishing a framework for regulating international wildlife trade.
The treaty has grown significantly since 1973 to include 177 member countries (referred to as “Parties”) with the most recent Party -- the Maldives -- joining in December 2012. It has become a truly international, cooperative effort to protect wildlife from unsustainable and illegal trade.
At the upcoming meeting, Parties will review and vote on proposals to improve the effectiveness of the treaty and make amendments to Appendices I and II. Through the adoption of resolutions and species proposals, the CoP develops practical solutions to complex wildlife trade problems.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary and get ready for the beginning of CoP16, we encourage you to get involved:
- Visit International Affairs’ Facebook page to learn more about CITES and its history, guess bizarre species that CITES protects, and count down to CoP16. Be sure to give it a Like!
- Visit International Affairs’ Flickr page to see beautiful pictures of some of the many species CITES protects or may protect in the near future. With almost 35,000 species protected, there are plenty to feature
- Follow International Affairs’ Twitter for the latest CoP16 news and updates
- Visit the CoP16 webpage to learn about the species proposals the United States is putting forward at CoP16
Remember, the conference will take place in Bangkok from March 3-14, 2013!