International co-operation is essential for the protection of certain species of wild fauna and flora against over-exploitation through international trade. Trade in specimens of species threatened with extinction must be subject to particularly strict regulation in order not to endanger further their survival and must only be authorized in exceptional circumstances. Species which although not necessarily now threatened with extinction may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
Wild fauna and flora in their many beautiful and varied forms are an irreplaceable part of the natural systems of the earth which must be protected for this and the generations to come. Consideration must be given to the ever-growing value of wild fauna and flora from aesthetic, scientific, cultural, recreational and economic points of view, and that local peoples and states are and should be the best protectors of their own wild fauna and flora.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in force since 1975, aims to regulate international trade in wild flora and fauna to conserve and manage natural resources, and to protect certain endangered species from over-exploitation through international trade. It prohibits or regulates trade in some 20,000 endangered species (listed in the Appendices to the Convention). The Secretariat for CITES, established in 1973, is administered by UNEP. The Secretariat monitors international trade of a wide range of species of animals and plants, and administers the implementation of the Convention.