Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

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The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals - more commonly abbreviated to just the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) or the Bonn Convention-aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded 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, its membership has grown steadily to include over 100 Parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The Convention was signed in 1979 in Bad Godesberg, a suburb of Bonn (hence the name), and entered into force in 1983. The depositary is the government of the Federal Republic of Germany. The CMS is the only global and UN-based intergovernmental organization established exclusively for the conservation and management of terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range. CMS and its daughter agreements determine policy and provide further guidance on specific issues through their Strategic Plans, Action Plans, resolutions, decisions and guidelines. All maintain on their websites a list of all decisions taken, guidelines issues and Action Plans adopted by the Member States.

CMS Preamble

“Conservation and effective management of migratory species of wild animals require the concerted action of all States within the national jurisdictional boundaries of which such species spend any part of their life cycle”

Fundamental principles

Fundamental Principles of the Convention are set out in Article 2. The Parties acknowledge the importance of migratory species being conserved and of Range States agreeing to take action to this end "whenever possible and appropriate", "paying special attention to migratory species the conservation status of which is unfavourable and taking individually or in cooperation appropriate and necessary steps to conserve such species and their habitat." Further in Article 2(2) The Parties "acknowledge" [but do not commit in stronger language, cf Art 2(3) "shall"] "the need to take action to avoid any migratory species becoming endangered".

In Article 2(3) the Convention states that "the Parties: (a) should promote, cooperate in and support research relating to migratory species; (b) shall endeavour to provide immediate protection for migratory species included in Appendix I; and (c) shall endeavour to conclude AGREEMENTS covering the conservation and management of migratory species included in Appendix II."

Parties to the Convention

The Parties acknowledge the importance of conserving migratory species and agree that Range States – those countries through which migratory species pass or spend part of their lives - should take joint action. At August 2015, there were 121 Parties to the Convention.

Species Coverage

The CMS Family covers a great diversity of migratory species. The Appendices of CMS include many mammals, including land mammals, marine mammals and bats; birds; fish; reptiles and one insect. Among the instruments, AEWA covers 255 species of birds that are ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle. EUROBATS covers 52 species of bat, the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks seven species of shark, the IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU six species of marine turtle and the Raptors MoU 76 species of birds of prey.

Appendix I – Threatened Migratory Species

Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the Convention, with relevant provisions outlined in Article III, paragraphs 4 and 5. Parties that are Range States to Appendix I species are obliged to afford them strict protection. 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.

Appendix II – Migratory Species requiring international cooperation

Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention. These species, either individually or by taxonomic group, are the basis for establishing instruments – regional or global – under CMS.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. They aim to conserve:

  • Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS)
  • Cetaceans of the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS)
  • Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS)
  • African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA)

Memoranda of Understanding (MoU)

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

Organizational Structure of CMS

Conference of the Parties

The Conference of the parties is the CMS' principal decision-making body. It meets every three years. Its functions are enumerated in Article VII of the Convention. For example, it reviews the Convention's implementation, adopts budgets, resolutions and recommendations, amends Appendix I and II and decides on priorities for future CMS activities.

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee was established by Resolution 1.1 of the Conference of the Parties (COP). It is responsible for carrying out interim activities on behalf of the COP to

  • ensure that decisions are implemented,
  • monitor the budget,
  • make recommendations for consideration by the next COP,
  • provide advice and guidance to the Secretariat,
  • represent the COP in negotiations with the Host Government and UNEP with regard to the Secretariat,
  • act as a bureau at the COP,
  • and to undertake any other ad hoc task assigned to it by the COP.

The Standing Committee usually meets immediately before and after the COP. Intersessionally it usually meets once a year. The Committee consists of representatives of every global region, of the Depositary, of the country that hosted the previous COP and where applicable, of the country which plans to host the next meeting of the COP. The two regions with the largest membership (Europe and Africa) have three representatives each, Central & South America & the Caribbean and Asia both have two and Oceania one. There are no Parties from North America.


A Secretariat under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provides administrative support to the Convention. It is based in the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany. From 2013 the Executive Secretary of the Convention is Bradnee Chambers.



Article 6(3) requires Parties which are Range States for migratory species listed in Appendix I or II to inform the CoP through the Secretariat, at least six months prior to each ordinary meeting of the Conference, on measures that they are taking to implement the Convention for these species.

Domestic legislation

To varying degrees the Bonn Convention has been incorporated into domestic law by the Parties.

See also


External links