Bern Convention
Case Files

Opening of files
The Secretariat examines all letters sent to the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention ("the Convention") itself or to its Chairman or Secretariat by a Contracting Party, individual, non-governmental organisation or group of private persons containing a complaint about one or more Contracting Parties' failure to comply with one or more provisions of the Convention.

The Secretariat, on the basis of the information available to it, and if necessary requesting further information from the complainant, informs the Contracting Party (-ies) and decides whether to act on the complaint. It ensures in particular that the complaint is not anonymous and examines, taking account of any procedures that may be pending at national and/or international level, whether the complaint is sufficiently serious to warrant examination at international level.

Where it decides on such action, the Secretariat forwards the complaint to the Contracting Party or Parties concerned, seeking their opinion and, if necessary, further information. It informs the Bureau of the action taken.

The Contracting Parties must respond to the Secretariat's request within a period of about four months.

In the light of the reply received, the Secretariat decides, in agreement with the Bureau, whether there are grounds for placing the complaint on the agenda for the next meeting of the Standing Committee. The Contracting Party or Parties concerned are informed of this at least two months before the date of the meeting.

In cases of urgency and in order to expedite the possible settlement of a difficulty between two meetings of the Standing Committee, the Bureau may decide, with the agreement of the Contracting Party concerned, to organise an on-site assessment.

At the meeting of the Standing Committee, the Secretariat or - with the consent of the Chairman or a Contracting Party - an observer concerned in the matter explains the complaint and, depending on the circumstances, proposes that further information be awaited or requested, that a specific recommendation be adopted (see II below) or that an on-the-spot enquiry be conducted for the purpose of a more thorough examination in accordance with Rule 11 of the Rules of Procedure.

In accordance with Rule 9 c. of the Rules of Procedure, proposals made by observers may be put to the vote if sponsored by a delegation.

The Standing Committee then studies the complaint submitted and proposals formulated and decides in the absence of consensus and as required by Rules 8 c. of the Rules of Procedure, by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, whether it is appropriate to open a file.

If such is the case, the Standing Committee, also by consensus, or in the absence of consensus by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, as required by Rule 8 b. of the Rules of Procedure, decides whether it is preferable to adopt a specific recommendation or to conduct an on-the-spot enquiry first.

The recommendations adopted are communicated to the Contracting Parties for implementation and are public.

Closing of files
If, after it has examined the report made by an expert following an on-the-spot enquiry or the report forwarded by the Contracting Party concerned as part of the follow-up to a specific recommendation (see paragraph 15 below), the Standing Committee finds that the difficulties relating to implementation of the Convention have been resolved, it decides by consensus, or in the absence of consensus by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, as required under Rule 8 b. of the Rules of Procedure, to close the file.

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