Nature
Bern Convention
Follow up to recommendations


Article 14, paragraph 1, of the Convention states that:

"The Standing Committee shall be responsible for following the application of this Convention. It may in particular : (...)- make recommendations to the Contracting Parties concerning measures to be taken for the purposes of this Convention; (...)."

In accordance with the practice that has developed in recent years, the Standing Committee adopts two types of recommendation:
  • general recommendations pursuant to its general programme of action (recommendations arising in particular from meetings of groups of experts, the work of consultants or seminars);
  • specific recommendations following its examination of a file which it has decided to consider. Specifically addressed to one or more Contracting Parties, these recommendations concern situations in which the implementation of the Convention raises, in a particular case, problems over the conservation of flora, fauna, or a natural habitat (for example, unsatisfactory protection of a species of fauna in a specified location).
The recommendations constitute essential means of giving substance to the provisions of the Convention and may even constitute, in time, international customary law. The monitoring of their follow-up is therefore fundamental.

The Standing Committee also adopts guidelines. Though more detailed than general recommendations, they nevertheless have comparable standing. They offer guidance to the Contracting Parties on the action to be taken.

General recommendations and guidelines
The follow-up to general recommendations or guidelines takes place mainly through general four-yearly reports in which the Contracting Parties concerned are invited to describe the legal and/or other measures taken to comply with the policies they propose.

With the agreement of the Bureau, the Secretariat prepares a "Summary of General Recommendations/Guidelines" containing, for each of them :
  • the text of the general recommendation/guideline;
  • the information provided by the Contracting Party or Parties concerned and any expert's report that may have been prepared; and
  • a proposal that also takes account of any other available information.
It is the responsibility of the Standing Committee, in the light of this information and after discussion, to decide - by consensus or in the absence of the consensus, by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, as required under Rule 8 b. of the Rules of Procedure - on any measures which ought to be taken in respect of each general recommendation/guideline (plan or programme of action, strategy, training courses, technical or financial assistance, expert report, etc.).

Where the follow-up to a general recommendation/guideline proves to be no longer necessary, the Standing Committee may decide - 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 consider that implementation is satisfactory.


Specific recommendations
For the purpose of following up specific recommendations, the Secretariat writes to the Contracting Parties concerned asking them to submit a report summarising the legal and/or other measure or measures adopted to comply with the policies laid down in those recommendations.

After receiving the reports, within a period of about four months, the Secretariat prepares, with the agreement of the Bureau, a "Summary of Specific Recommendations" containing, for each of them :
  • the text of the recommendation;
  • the report submitted by the Contracting Party or Parties concerned, any excessively bulky appendices or documentation included with the report being kept available for consultation at the Secretariat; and
  • a proposal that also takes account of any other available information.
The Standing Committee decides in the light of this document and after discussion whether, in the case of each recommendation, the measure or measures adopted by the Contracting Party or Parties concerned are sufficient or not.

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:
  • a) if the measures taken by the Contracting Party(ies) are sufficient, to consider that the implementation of the specific recommendation is satisfactory and to close the file (see paragraph 10 above);
  • b) if, on the contrary, they are insufficient, to consider that the Contracting Party(ies) has(have) failed to comply with its(their) obligations under the Convention in the case concerned.
If paragraph 16 b. above applies, the problem then arises as to the attitude to be taken by the Standing Committee in cases where, despite the maintenance of a specific recommendation, the Contracting Party(ies) to which it is addressed continue(s) not to implement it.

In this connection it is appropriate to refer to Article 18, paragraph 2 of the Convention, which provides for the possibility of recourse to arbitration for any dispute over the interpretation or application of the Convention.

The Standing Committee might look into this possibility and, in certain cases of particular gravity, invite one or more Contracting Parties to set in motion, on behalf of the Standing Committee, the procedure laid down in Article 18 of the Convention.




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