Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS, also known as the Bonn Convention) is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded in 1979 in Bonn, Germany, under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale. Since the Convention's entry into force in 1983, its membership has grown steadily to include 92 (as of 1 August 2005) Parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

Objectives and Approach

The Convention aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range.

Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the Convention. CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Besides establishing obligations for each State joining the Convention, CMS promotes concerted action among the Range States of many of these species.

Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international cooperation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention. For this reason, the Convention encourages the Range States to conclude global or regional Agreements. In this respect, CMS acts as a framework Convention. The Agreements may range from legally binding treaties (called Agreements) to less formal instruments, such as Memoranda of Understanding, and can be adapted to the requirements of particular regions. The development of models tailored according to the conservation needs throughout the migratory range is a unique capacity to CMS.

Several Agreements have been concluded to date under the auspices of CMS including the following:

  • Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP)
  • African – Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA)
  • Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS)
  • Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS)
  • Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (Eurobats)
  • Agreement on the Conservation of Seals in the Wadden Sea (Wadden Sea Seals)

In addition, several Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) have been concluded to date under the auspices of CMS. They are as follows:

  • Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of the Middle-European Population of the Great Bustard
  • Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Conservation Measures for the Siberian Crane
  • Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Conservation Measures for the Slender-billed Curlew
  • Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Conservation Measures for Marine Turtles of the Atlantic Coast of Africa
  • Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and Their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia
  • Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Conservation and Restoration of the Bukhara Deer
  • Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Conservation Measures for the Aquatic Warbler

In addition, an Action Plan for the Conservation and Restoration of Sahelo-Saharan Antelopes and Their Habitats has been adopted under the CMS.

Institutional structure

Conference of the Parties (COP): The Conference of the Parties is the decision-making organ of the Convention. It establishes and keeps under review the financial regulations of the Convention, adopts the budget for each financial period and reviews the implementation of the Convention. In particular, it may review and assess the conservation status of migratory species and the progress made towards their conservation; it provides guidance, receives national reports and makes recommendations to the Parties. The COP meets at intervals of not more than three years. So far, since the Convention entered into force in 1983, the COP has held seven meetings. COP 8 will take place in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2005.

Standing Committee: The Standing Committee was established by Resolution 1.1 of the Conference of the Parties. Its functions are to provide policy and administrative guidance between regular meetings of the Conference of the Parties. It consists of representatives of every global region, of the Depositary and, where applicable, of the country which plans to host the next meeting of the COP.

Scientific Council: The Scientific Council makes recommendations to the Conference of the Parties on such issues as research on migratory species, specific conservation and management measures, the inclusion of migratory species in the Appendices and designation of species for Concerted or Cooperative Actions under the Convention. It also gives advice on projects' eligibility for funding under the Small Grant Programme of CMS. Each Party is entitled to appoint a qualified expert as a member of the Scientific Council. In addition, the Conference of the Parties can appoint to the Council other experts to cover fields of particular interest to the Convention.

Secretariat: The Secretariat is the Convention's coordinating body. It arranges for and services meetings of the Conference of the Parties, the Scientific Council and the Standing Committee. Its functions are enumerated in Article IX of the Convention. For example, the Secretariat promotes and supports the development of Agreements, supports and supervises research and conservation projects, disseminates information and cooperates with governments and partner organisations. The CMS Secretariat is provided and administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Strategic Plan

At its sixth meeting in 1999, the COP adopted the Strategic Plan for 2000-2005. The Strategic Plan includes four objectives, each containing a number of operational objectives. The four major objectives are as follows:

  • To promote the conservation of migratory species included in major animal groups listed in the CMS Appendices
  • To focus and prioritise conservation actions for migratory species
  • To enhance global membership in CMS through targeted promotion of the Convention’s aims
  • To facilitate and improve implementation of the Convention.