The establishment of a Scientific Council to provide advice on scientific matters to other CMS bodies and CMS Parties is foreseen in Article VIII of the Convention. The Scientific Council was established by the1st meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Bonn, 1985) through Resolution 1.4. The Council notably makes recommendations to the Conference of the Parties on such issues as research on migratory species, specific conservation and management measuresin relation to threats to migratory species, the inclusion of migratory species in the Appendices and designation of species for Concerted Actions under the Convention. It also gives advice on projects' eligibility for funding under the Small Grants Programme of CMS.
Each Party is entitled to appoint a qualified expert as a member of the Scientific Council (Party-appointed Councillors). Parties may also nominate an alternate Scientific Councillor, entitled to participate in meetings of the Council when the regular Councillor cannot attend. In addition to the members appointed by the individual Parties, the Conference of the Parties can appoint to the Council other experts to cover fields of particular interest to the Convention (COP-appointed Councillors).
The Future Shape process undertaken during the triennium 2009-2011 identified the restructuring of the Scientific Council as one of the sixteen target activities for CMS, as outlined in Resolution 10.9 on Future Structure and Strategies for CMS and the CMS Family, and Resolution 10.1 on Financial and Administrative Matters.
The 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Quito, 2014), through Resolution 11.4 on the restructuring of the Scientific Council, agreed on a number of institutional and organizational changes for the Council. In particular, while reaffirming that the Scientific Council will continue to be composed of members appointed by individual Parties and members appointed by the Conference of the Parties, decided that, for each intersessional period between two consecutive meetings of the Conference of the Parties, a representative selection of the membership of the Scientific Council, to be named the Sessional Committee of the Scientific Council, should be identified, composed of:
(a) nine COP-appointed Councillors with expertise in taxonomic and thematic issues; and
(b) fifteen Party-appointed Councillors selected from within the Standing Committee’s geographic regions, three from each of the regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and South and Central America and the Caribbean.
The members of the Sessional Committee are to be appointed by the Conference of the Parties at each of its ordinary meetings. Each ordinary meeting is expected to decide upon the renewal of half of the Party-appointed membership of the Sessional Committee, in order to balance continuity and renewal. The Conference of the Parties can also identify from the pool of Party-appointed Councillors up to three alternate members for each region, who could replace permanently or temporarily a regular member from the region not in a position to continue to serve on the Sessional Committee or to attend a particular meeting.
The full list of members of the Scientific Council and of members of the Sessional Committee can be found here.
The Sessional Committee is primarily responsible for the implementation of the mandate assigned to the Scientific Council by the Conference of the Parties for the intersessional period. All outputs of the Sessional Committee are considered outputs of the Scientific Council.
A full revision of the Rules of Procedure of the Scientific Council and its Sessional Committee was finalized at the 3rd meeting of the Sessional Committee (ScC-SC3) and approved by the 48th meeting of the CMS Standing Committee.
The 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Manila, 2017)undertook a revision and consolidation of all previous resolutions and recommendations on the Scientific Council in Resolution 12.4.