Bodies that provide Intersessional policy and Administrative Guidance

These bodies, which are in most cases called the Standing Committee, provide policy and administrative guidance between regular meetings of the decision-making bodies, and ensure that their decisions are implemented. Whereas the CMS Scientific Council (see below) is provided for within the Convention text, the Standing Committee was established by the COP (originally Resolution 1.1 in 1984 but now based on Resolution 9.15 of 2008). Similar subsidiary bodies exist within several other CMS Family instruments, namely AEWA, whose Standing Committee was established through the adoption of Resolution 2.6 and EUROBATS with the adoption of Resolution 5.8.

In the case of ASCOBANS, the subsidiary body, which is called the Advisory Committee, has a double function in providing not only technical advisory services but also administrative and policy guidance. These bodies either consist of regional representatives elected by the decision-making bodies and other representatives such as the depositary government, or in the case of smaller Agreements one representative per Party. The composition of these bodies is set out below. Where the subsidiary body is made up of elected regional representatives, any other Member State can normally participate as a non-voting observer.

Their mandate consists of the following:

  • monitoring the budget
  • making recommendations for consideration by the next meetings of the decision-making bodies
  • providing advice and guidance to the Secretariats/Coordinating Units
  • representing the decision-making bodies in negotiations with the Host Government and UNEP with regard to the Secretariats/Coordinating Units.

As and when they consider it appropriate the decision-making bodies can additionally assign other ad hoc tasks to the subsidiary bodies.

Scientific and Technical Advisory Bodies

These bodies provide advice to the decision-making bodies and the Secretariats/Coordinating Units on scientific matters and priorities for research and conservation and ensure that all information presented, via proposals, recommendations, etc., is scientifically sound. Generally, they promote the interaction between science and policy.

The CMS Scientific Council consists of members (known as Scientific Councillors) appointed by the Parties of CMS. They do not, however, represent the views of their governments, and contribute to the work of the instrument in their capacity as experts. In addition, the COP appoints a limited number of Councillors qualified in fields of particular interest such as special fauna and flora. (Article VIII, paragraph 2 of the CMS).


Some of the Agreements and MOUs also established Advisory Bodies or Technical Committees. The composition of the bodies does however vary widely.


Working Groups

Working Groups are normally established either in a formal or informal manner in the context of the bodies (decision-making and subsidiary) of each instrument. Some of these Working Groups operate only during the meeting of these bodies while others have the mandate to work intersessionally to provide advice or recommendations. Depending on the nature of their mandate, Working Groups can be composed of Member States’ representatives or scientific experts within or without the technical bodies of these instruments.

The Standing Committee of the CMS for instance had an Intersessional Working Group on Future Shape and currently has a Sub-Committee on Budgetary and Financial matters while the Scientific Council of CMS has for example the Working Groups on Global Flyways. A number of further Working Groups on various issues and species have been established under the Agreements and MOUs.