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Assessing National Laws for the Implementation of CITES

Non-Confidential Executive Summary:

This TradeLab project analyses the domestic legislation of 14 developing countries in implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

This project finds that most assessed Parties have implemented the CITES' core requirements, and recommendations provided in the resolutions of the Conference of the Parties (CoP). Of the 14 assessed Parties, the project identifies a minority of three countries for which the CITES Secretariat may wish to review their Category 1 status. These Parties fall short of all or several of the following elements: they failed to appropriately designate Management and Scientific Authorities by law, circumscribe the Authorities' tasks and responsibilities, or – by exclusively regulating native species – appear not to comprehensively cover species listed in the Convention's three Appendices.

Furthermore, the innovative approaches of several assessed Parties have provided fertile ground for this project's analysis of seven suggested elements that may enhance the effectiveness of CITES implementation: (1) national laws should present clear and precise steps for implementation; (2) laws should reflect CITES instruments and language; (3) legislation should cover the actions of corporate entities; (4) individual discretion of government officials should be limited; (5) CITES implementation could be strengthened through budgetary independence; (6) designation of ports of entry and exit may improve the effectiveness of inspection and enforcement, and (7) involvement of civil society may enhance accountability and transparency.

This project finds that the laws of three assessed Parties – respectively, one country each from Africa, the Asia-Pacific, and the Americas – may serve as positive examples and potentially provide guidance to other CITES Parties, which have extensively implemented CoP recommendations and developed innovative approaches to implementation. In sum, the positive findings of this project instill confidence in the ability of developing economies to enforce CITES obligations through robust domestic legal instruments.

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