CMS Parties have over the years endorsed the development and negotiated 7 legally-binding Agreements and 19 MOUs. Often the COP identified that a certain species or species group was facing particular problems and that international coordinate action in the form of an Agreement under Article IV was the best approach.
The stages of the process leading up to the negotiation of an instrument are as follows:
• Parties identify a species with an unfavourable conservation status and require international agreements for their conservation and management
• Secretariat/Coordination Unit and/or a Party takes lead in convening a meeting of Range States and other interested organizations and circulates a draft text in advance
• NFP needs to ascertain whether his or her Party wishes to sign any future instrument and whether it would be advisable to participate in the negotiations.
To participate in the negotiation meeting and be entitled to sign the instrument, the delegate of the country (whether the NFP or another official) will need “Full Powers”, these are similar to the letter of credentials needed to attend a meeting of a decision-making body. The delegate’s signature would not normally give full effect to the country’s commitment to a legally-binding Agreement; it only indicates that the country accepts that the text presented is the one agreed at the meeting. National procedures usually mean that the signature is made “subject to ratification” meaning that the national parliament or president has to confirm the country’s intention to be bound by the terms. One of the Member States normally agrees to serve as “depositary”, meaning that it receives all ratification documents and maintains the official list of those countries that have joined.