International Judicial Monitor
Published by the International Judicial Academy, Washington, D.C., with assistance from the
American Society of International Law

Fall 2016/Winter 2017 Issue

100 Ways


International Law: One Hundred Ways It Shapes Our Lives

100 WaysPreserving natural resources of medicine that may one day save your life.

By: James G. Apple, Editor-in-Chief, International Judicial Monitor

(In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Society of International Law in 2006, the Society published a pamphlet titled International Law: One Hundred Ways It Shapes Our Lives. The introduction gives an explanation for its conception: an affirmation that: “international law not only exists, but also penetrates much more deeply and broadly into everyday life than the people it affects may generally appreciate.” This column seeks to elucidate and elaborate on many of the 100 ways briefly presented in the ASIL pamphlet.)

It is a known fact that pharmaceutical companies regularly search for chemicals found in plants (flora) and find substances that can fight or cure human diseases. This means that their research requires investigators to go to remote forests and jungles to extract samples from plants indigenous to those areas for testing for new drugs.

These efforts are sometimes thwarted by development of targeted survey areas by manufacturing and agricultural interests who clear forests and jungles. They are also thwarted by unregulated international trade in flora and fauna. The dangers posed to survey areas and to the objects of development and international trade were recognized as early as 1963 at a meeting in Kenya of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (still in existence) where a draft resolution was prepared for the creation of a multilateral treaty to protect plants and animals endangered by development. The result was the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, (CITES). The text of the Convention was approved at a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in March, 1973, and in the same year was opened for signature and ratification. The Convention entered into force two years later, on July 1, 1975. The Convention, as of October, 2016 has 183 parties, including the European Union.

CITES is directed by a Secretary General who oversees a Secretariat. The offices of the Secretariat are located in Geneva, Switzerland. The structure of CITES also


includes a Conference of Parties, which usually meets once every three years. CITES has three permanent working committees: Standing, Plants and Animals.

Since its founding in 1975 the number of plants and animals protected by CITES has grown to approximately 35,000, found in all parts of the world. Three appendices provide three different levels of protection. Appendix I covers species “threatened with extinction and provides the greatest level of protection.” Appendix II includes species that, while not threatened with extinction, may become so if some kind of restrictions in trade are not adopted. Appendix III covers  species of a particular country that has asked for protection assistance from  other parties to the Convention.

CITES is funded by contributions from parties, who contribute to a CITES Trust Fund. CITES rules and regulations create a framework for parties, “ which must establish their own domestic legislation to implement CITES at the national level.”

Membership in CITES is voluntary, as is the case with many international organizations. However, once a party joins CITES, its rules and regulations become binding. CITES party infractions are not governed by international arbitration rules, but are subject to sanctions as determined by the Conference of Parties. These may include “suspension of cooperation from the Office of the Secretariat, a recommendation by the Conference of Parties to suspend CITES trade approval, and designation of ‘corrective measures’ for the offending party before resumption of trade.”

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the founding of CITES, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service interviewed Marshall Jones, who is Senior Conservation Adviser at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. He worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 32 years and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of CITES. Jones, in response to the question “What does the future of CITES look like?


We need to address supply as well as demand. We need to put more money toward supporting rangers on the ground…. We need to bring strong sanctions against countries that are issuing corrupt and bad permits…. We need social media to get people to take action. We need to get nongovernment organizations more involved.

A world without CITES is inconceivable.

ASIl & International Judicial AcademyInternational Judicial Monitor
© 2017 – The International Judicial Academy
with assistance from the American Society of International Law.

Editor: James G. Apple.
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