Overshadowed The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (cites) took a few steps forward and retracted a whole mile at its 13 th Conference of Parties (co p-13), which concluded in Bangkok on October 14 after 2 weeks of hectic parleys. It set in motion, or sped up, processes to overhaul the very extent of the convention's reach. In the same vein, it passed proposals and accepted documents that sent it reeling back to the days of ultra-conservation (see box: What moved at CoP-13).

Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra got the ball rolling in a positive direction, committing to help set up an asean-wide system to monitor trafficking and promising to host a meeting to this effect in 2005. cites secretary-general W Wijnstekers had other urgencies in mind: the convention faced a fund crunch.Even as existing programmes lacked resources, he told delegates and the media, ever-enthusiastic conservation-oriented countries were eager cites played a bigger role in wildlife protection in the years to come.

Money crunch apart, cites has been facing an increasing crisis of identity: the Convention on Biological Diversity (cbd), for instance, has now taken the lead in setting the terms for sustainable trade in natural resources. In the last decade, the convention has attempted to re-cast itself, trying hard to find synergies between itself and other international bodies like the International Whaling Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (fao), and multilateral agreements such as the Convention on Migratory Species and cbd. In fact, cites has already concluded memoranda of understanding with the Basel Convention, the Montreal Protocol, iucn, the World Customs Organization and Interpol, and is preparing one with unep and fao(see box: CBD and CITES).
Realign or perish cites rose out of concern in the 1970s that international trade in wildlife was driving numerous species to extinction; thus, strong controls on such trade

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