What is CMS?

CMS stands for the Convention on Migratory Species (the full name is the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals).  It is also known as the Bonn Convention, because the intergovernmental conference where the Convention was negotiated took place in Bonn in 1979.

There are two correct ways of mentioning CMS:

  • Short form: Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)
  • Long form: Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

How long has CMS existed?

The text was negotiated in 1979 and the Convention entered into force on 1 November 1983 after 15 Governments had ratified it. The Secretariat that administers the Convention was established in 1984.

How many Parties does CMS have?

As of 1 March 2022, there are 133 Parties to the Convention – 132 countries plus the European Union. The Kingdom of Bahrain is the latest Party to join the Convention.

What species are covered by CMS?

Mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and one insect are listed on the Convention’s two Appendices, including many whales and dolphins, bats, gorillas, antelopes, albatrosses, raptors, waterbirds, sharks, sturgeons, marine turtles and the Monarch Butterfly.

Appendix I lists migratory species that are endangered.

Appendix II lists migratory species which have an unfavourable conservation status and which require international agreements for their conservation and management.  It also includes species whose conservation status would significantly benefit from the international cooperation that could be achieved by an international agreement.

The text of the Convention is available here along with the all the species covered by the Convention and the Appendices.

What is a migratory species?

For the purposes of the Convention, a migratory species is one that cyclically and predictably crosses one or more national jurisdictional boundaries.  The full definition is set out in Article I, paragraph 1 of the Convention.

How is the Convention run?

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the main decision-making body of the Convention. The COP meets approximately once every three years. The most recent meeting of the COP (COP13) took place in India in 2020; the next is scheduled to take place in Uzbekistan from 12 to 17 February 2024.

Between meetings of the COP, the Standing Committee oversees policy and implementation. The Standing Committee meets once in the years between the COP, as well as immediately before the and immediately after the COP.

Technical advice is provided by the Scientific Council.  Each Party can nominate a member and the Conference of Parties appoints a number of experts (currently nine) with specialist knowledge of regional fauna, animal groups or other topics such as bycatch and climate change.

A Secretariat provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) administers the Convention, preparing documents, organizing meetings and coordinating policy. The Secretariat is based in the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany.

What is the “CMS Family”?

CMS was designed to be an umbrella Convention giving rise to more specific instruments dealing with specific species or groups of species often in clearly defined regions. As a result seven Agreements, international treaties in their own right have been concluded, together with 19 less formal legally non-binding Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). Together, the Convention, the Agreements and the MOUs are known as the “CMS Family”.