Endangered wildlife knows no borders. The Center works to protect global biodiversity by using U.S. and international law to hold governments accountable for threatening imperiled species wherever they're found.


The Center protects species as distinct from each other as the Okinawa dugong, the polar bear and the three-wattled bellbird in places as far-flung as New Zealand and Russia. By using the U.S. legal system and U.S. laws — like the Endangered Species Act — we’re working to ensure that American government activities and projects abroad don’t hurt imperiled species. We take action under treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement and trade laws to ensure international commitments are enforced within and outside U.S. borders. With our grassroots conservation-group allies in other countries, the Center is securing a future for diverse species and habitat around the globe. The scope of our international program is rapidly expanding.


• Petitions and legal action under U.S. and international law
• Global policy advocacy
• Coalition building with local allies
• Creative media


Our International Program:

• Won the first international lawsuit under the U.S. National Historic Preservation Act, challenging construction of an American military base in Okinawa, Japan, that would damage important remaining habitat of the Okinawa dugong.

• In 2012 challenged the United States Export-Import Bank’s nearly $5 billion in funding for two natural gas facilities inside Australia’s Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, a case that will address whether the U.S. Endangered Species Act applies to all U.S.-funded projects abroad.

• Used NAFTA to stop construction of a natural gas facility on the U.S.-Mexico border that could have devastated the Xantus’s murrelet and other rare seabirds; in 2012, used the same process to seek endangered status for the polar bear in Canada and strengthen Canadian regulation of aquaculture to protect wild salmon.

• In 2012 sought sanctions to stop Canada’s unsustainable polar bear hunt that violates an international polar bear treaty. Canada and other range countries have now agreed to a joint reporting program for all hunting and polar bear trade.

• In 2013 requested a trade embargo against Mexico to end loggerhead sea turtle bycatch off the Baja peninsula.

• Through a 2008 legal petition, impelled the U.S. government to begin developing new rules that will ban fish imports that don’t meet U.S. standards for protecting marine mammals like dolphins and whales.

• In 2006 filed a lawsuit winning Endangered Species Act protection for five vanishing birds from Latin America, settling a separate lawsuit in 2009 compelling final listings for six birds and proposed listings for 25 birds from around the world.

• In 2006 led a dozen conservation organizations from the United States and Canada in petitioning the World Heritage Committee to add Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park to the list of World Heritage sites as “in danger” due to impacts from climate change.

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The proposed 92-mile-long Vía Verde pipeline would cut Puerto Rico in half, destroying precious habitat for imperiled species like the tiny coquí llanero frog.

The Okinawa dugong, a gentle, highly endangered manatee relative, could become a casualty of U.S. military construction off the coast of Japan.

Birds of the world: We seek legal protection for scores of imperiled nesters from the frozen Arctic to the tropical paradise of Fiji.

The U.S.-Mexico borderlands — millions of lovely, remote acres where jaguars and pronghorns roam — are at high risk from unnecessary security and immigration measures.

The Center takes on Army brass and developers to save the San Pedro River, a transnational watershed and seasonal home to half of America’s bird species.

We lead an international coalition to rescue Panama’s ecological jewel, La Amistad, from four planned dams.




Contact the International Program.

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Photo courtesy Flickr Commons/Peter Nijenhuis