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New head for international wildlife trade convention Willem Wijnstekers of The Netherlands is appointed Secretary-General of CITES

Nairobi, 29 January 1999 - Mr. Willem Wouter Wijnstekers of The Netherlands has been appointed Secretary-General of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The appointment, announced today by Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP, the global environmental authority), which administers the Convention.

After ten years working in the private sector and four in the Dutch administration, Wijnstekers became responsible for wildlife trade legislation in the European Commission's Directorate General for the Environment, Nuclear Safety and Civil Protection in 1978. Working in this capacity for over twenty years, Wijnstekers has built up a great deal of expertise in drafting European Community wildlife conservation legislation, particularly on the implementation of CITES.

"With his long experience and detailed knowledge of CITES, Mr. Wijnstekers will be a valuable asset in the global fight to combat the international wildlife trade; a trade worth billions of dollars annually, and one that has caused massive declines in the numbers of many species of animals and plants worldwide," said Toepfer.

Actively involved in a number of CITES committees and boards, Wijnstekers is also the author of several papers and publications on international environmental law including the widely acclaimed, "The Evolution of CITES, A reference to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora."

Born in Rotterdam in 1948 and married with two children, Mr. Wijnstekers is fluent in English, French and German.


For further information please contact:
Tore J. Brevik,
UNEP Spokesperson in Nairobi on
tel. (+254-2) 623292, fax: 623692,


the CITES Secretariat,
15, Chemin des Anemones,
CH-1219 Chatelaine,
tel. (+41-22) 9799139/40, fax: 797 3417,

Note to Editors

CITES was signed in 1973 and entered into force on 1 July 1975. The Convention, drawn up to protect wildlife against over-exploitation and to prevent international trade from threatening species with extinction, now has a membership of 144 countries. These countries act by banning commercial international trade in an agreed list of endangered species and by regulating and monitoring trade in others that might become endangered. Today, there are more than 30,000 species of plants and animals included in the Convention's three appendices.

The Secretariat of the Convention, administered by UNEP, is located in Switzerland. It helps the Parties to implement CITES by providing interpretation of the provisions of the Convention, and advice on its practical implementation. The Secretariat also conducts a number of projects to help to improve the implementation, such as training seminars, or to examine the status of species in trade, to ensure that their exploitation remains within sustainable limits. Some of the Secretariat's projects are designed to provide assistance to the Parties in preparing national legislation to implement the Convention.

UNEP News Release 1999/9

Friday 29 Jan 1999
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