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Professor Serves as Legal Advisor at the Convention on Migratory Species

March 28, 2020

Professor Chris Wold has played a vital role as a legal advisor to the Convention on Migratory Species’ (CMS) since 2014, advising on voting and other procedures as well as drafting resolutions designed to protect migratory animals. This February, Wold was in India as an advisor to CMS at the Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP).

“Governments are rattled by a recent report that indicates that more than 1 million species are likely to go extinct in the coming decades,” stated Professor Wold. “The report underscores the importance of CMS for maintaining and restoring ecological connectivity and providing for resilience for migratory species.”

CMS provides a global platform for the conservation of migratory animals and their habitats and prohibits the taking of endangered migratory animals. CMS brings together States through which animals migrate to lay the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout the entire range of a migratory species. It is the only global convention specializing in the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration routes.

Professor Wold began his relationship with CMS in 2014 when he spent his sabbatical in Bonn, Germany with the Secretariat to CMS. His sabbatical culminated with his participation in the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Quito. During the 11th COP he assisted governments with significantly revising the Rules of Procedure and helped establish the ground rules for a new compliance mechanism for the convention. He reprised his role as legal advisor in 2017 in Manila, where he guided governments through their first votes.

At the February 2020 meeting, the COP voted to include the hammerhead shark and the tope shark in the convention’s list of protected species. Professor Wold advised on the rules for amending proposals and how the vote should be conducted when Australia called for a vote to amend the proposals to exclude the hammerhead and tope shark populations of Australia. The amendment was unsuccessful, and the CMS Parties agreed to protect the hammerhead and tope sharks throughout their entire range.

Other issues that professor Wold addressed at the February 2020 meeting included advising the United Kingdom and the EU on their voting rights during the transitional period of the UK leaving the EU. He also helped revise a draft resolution of the meaning of “range State” for purposes of vagrant species (species that are not permanent residents but occasionally enter a State). And, he also co-wrote the closing script for the chair to read at the end of the COP.

From Professor Wold’s perspective, this thirteenth meeting of CMS was a success for three reasons. “Firstly, not many issues were on the table at this meeting so it gave parties the chance to work out their differences and resolve the few controversial issues that did come up. Secondly, parties are taking CMS more seriously because CMS has built robust institutional structures and procedures, including a compliance process and a procedure for evaluating national legislation. Lastly, CMS is the one treaty that addresses on-the-ground conservation challenges facing species; no other treaty does that.”

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