The seventeenth Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference of the parties (CoP) exhibited a draconian opposition to any trade in ivory. A key component of this opposition was the intergovernmental regime’s consolidation of North–South power differentials through the increased presence and influence of Northern conservation-focused NGOs. Using the example of ivory, this Forum article unpacks this dynamic before advocating for more participatory, decentralized, and polycentric approaches to the global governance of endangered species trade at future CITES CoPs.

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