November 7, 2022

The League is partnering with international stakeholders to represent the music sector in policy conversations that will determine future rules for travel and trade with musical instruments made with material subject to endangered species protections. From November 14 to 25, 2022, the 184 worldwide parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will meet in Panama to participate in the 19th Conference of the Parties (CoP19), where international governments will agree to policies that balance trade and conservation needs for plant and animal species. The League’s CITES overview includes full background and detailed policy positions that have been advanced in the lead-up to CoP19.

Key issues up for discussion include:

CITES Musical Instrument Certificate: The United States (represented at the negotiations by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) is leading a proposal to streamline the CITES Musical Instrument Certificate (PDF) in use by musicians that travel internationally with instruments that contain species such as Brazilian rosewood, tortoiseshell, reptile skin, ivory, or other protected material. The League and global partners are supporting Musical Instrument Certificate improvements (PDF) that would be initiated and unfold over the next three years of CITES policy convenings and measurably improve opportunities to travel and tour with existing instruments.

Pernambuco: CoP19 will include consideration of a proposal to list Paubrasilia Echinata at the highest level of CITES protections (PDF), CITES Appendix I. Because Brazilian Pernambuco wood is used to produce most bows played by professional string musicians, the proposal could require permits for travel with all such bows and severely restrict future international trade. National and international organizations representing the bow making community and musicians are seeking a policy solution that will support the sustainability of the Pernambuco species, while also preventing unnecessary burdens (PDF) on travel and minimizing the impact on international musical commerce.

Annotations: As CITES considers crafting and implementing the fine print of current and future species listing proposals, musical instrument stakeholders are committing to partner with CITES on crafting new annotations policies (PDF) that carefully detail controls on trade without creating unintended consequences for musical instruments.  

Any new requirements or improvements in policy will be implemented 90 days after the November negotiations conclude. Each CITES participating country is represented at CoP19 by a governmental management authority that is also responsible for implementing CITES policies.

The League’s actions include:

  • Partnering with NAMM, the International Alliance of Violin and Bow Makers for Endangered Species, Confederation of European Music Industries, and others to directly participate in global negotiations unfolding in the next few weeks, hosting a special event in Panama City, and partnering with more than 50 international groups on statements to inform delegates about shared support both for conservation and musical activity.
  • Collaborating with the American Federation of Musicians, Performing Arts Alliance, the Recording Academy, and other domestic partners to speak up to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the years leading up to the CoP19, as the U.S. leadership position was developed.
  • Keeping orchestras up to date about the ongoing opportunities to support conservation efforts by complying with CITES policies through the League’s tips for traveling with musical instruments.

The League will share information about the outcomes of the CoP19 negotiations, develop any new guidance needed to support near-term travel with musical instruments, and keep orchestras informed about how to support conservation efforts while engaging in international cultural activity with musical instruments. 

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