(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is a legally binding agreement between 182 Parties (181 countries and the EU) that sets the international rules for wildlife trade. CITES was signed on 3 March1973 and 3 March was declared as UN World Wildlife Day by the UN General Assembly in 2013.

CITES was the first global conservation agreement to enter into force in 1975 and over 40 years later it remains one of the world's most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation. Today, CITES regulates international trade in over 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild and with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment.

At the Rio+20 Summit in 2012 CITES was described as an important convention that stands at the intersection between trade, the environment and development and in 2015 the UN General Assembly recognized CITES as providing the legal framework for both regulating legal trade and tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife.

CITES is a focused, action orientated and vibrant convention that is tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife through three main interventions: enforcement, livelihoods and demand reduction, with all three issues being high on the agenda of upcoming 17th meeting of Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17), known as the World Wildlife Conference, to be held in Johannesburg in late 2016.

The CITES Secretariat works with its global partners in the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) to provide coordinated support to countries at the national and regional levels in tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife, and with the UN and many other international intergovernmental and non governmental partners on supporting livelihoods and demand reduction.

The National Ivory Action Plans (NIAPs) developed under CITES is a great example of the species-specific actions taken under the Convention. These NIAPs obligate the key countries across the illegal supply chain that are implicated in illegal trade of elephant ivory to take time-bound measures to tackle this illicit trade, including through legislation, enforcement and public awareness building.

We are delighted to be able to work with our UN partners in the first UN campaign against illicit wildlife trafficking.