Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds

Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds

Infobox UN
name = The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds

image size =
caption =
type = Agreement
acronyms = AEWA
head = Acting Executive Secretary :"Bert Lenten"
status = active
established = on 16 June 1995
website = []
parent = UNEP
subsidiaries =
commons =
footnotes =

The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) is the largest of its kind developed so far under the Bonn Convention. It was concluded on 16 June 1995 in the Hague, the Netherlands and entered into force on 1 November 1999 after the required number of at least fourteen Range States, comprising seven from Africa and seven from Eurasia had ratified. Since then the Agreement is an independent international treaty.

The AEWA covers 235 species of birds ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle, including many species of divers, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, herons, storks, rails, ibises, spoonbills, flamingos, ducks, swans, geese, cranes, waders, gulls, terns and even the south African penguin.

The agreement covers 118 countries (2008) from Europe, parts of Asia and Canada, the Middle East and Africa. The Agreement provides for coordinated and concerted action to be taken by the Range States throughout the migration system ('flyways') of waterbirds to which it applies. Of the 118 Range States [ [ Range States] ] . , 61 countries have become a Contracting Party [ [ Contracting Parties] ] to AEWA as of 1 September 2008.

Parties to the Agreement are called upon to engage in a wide range of conservation actions which are describes in a comprehensive Action Plan [ [ Action Plan] ] . This detailed plan addresses such key issues as: species and habitat conservation, management of human activities, research and monitoring, education and information, and implementation.

Although the Agreement only entered into force a few years ago, its implementation is well underway. The European Union, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and United Kingdom increasingly support the implementation of AEWA. In addition to this support the GEF council approved the African-Eurasian Flyways Project [ [ Wings Over Wetlands Project] ] in November 2003 and its implementation started in July 2006. This project which is executed by Wetlands International in close cooperation with BirdLife International will especially focusing on: capacity building, cooperative research and monitoring and communication activities.


Introduction and Perspective

Throughout history, migration of animals has been a universal phenomenon. Many animals migrate in response to biological requirements, such as the need to find a suitable location for breeding and raising their young, and to be in favourable areas for feeding. In some cases, these specific requirements are fulfilled in locations separated by distances of thousand of kilometres.

During their migration, these animals cross political boundaries between nations; boundaries that have no inherent meaning for animals, but which have a dramatic influence on their annual life-cycles and their individual survival chances, due to the great differences that exist between countries in conservation policy. Migratory species are dependent on the specific sites they find at the end of their journey and along the way. Increasingly these sites are threatened by man-made disturbances and habitat degradation. Migratory animals may also fall victim to adverse natural phenomena, such as unfavourable climatic conditions.

The above mentioned influences are aggravated by the fact that it has long been held that migratory species legally do not fall within the jurisdiction of one particular country which could be held responsible for any harm occurring to them.

"1972" In 1972 the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, recognized the need for countries to co-operate in the conservation of animals that migrate across national boundaries or between areas of national jurisdiction and the high seas. This recommendation resulted in the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals []

"1983" This Convention, commonly referred to as the Bonn Convention, (after the German city where it was concluded in 1979), came into force in 1983. The goal of the Convention is to provide conservation for migratory terrestrial, marine and avian species over the whole of their range. This is very important, because failure to conserve these species at any particular stage of their life cycle could adversely affect any conservation efforts elsewhere. The fundamental principle of the Bonn Convention therefore, is that the Parties of the Bonn Convention acknowledge the importance of migratory species being conserved and of Range States agreeing to take action to this end whenever possible and appropriate, paying special attention to migratory species, the conservation status of which is unfavourable, and taking individually or in co-operation appropriate and necessary steps to conserve such species and their habitat. Parties acknowledge the need to take action to avoid any migratory species becoming endangered. In particular, the Parties:

*shall endeavour to provide immediate protection for migratory species included in Appendix I;

*shall endeavour to conclude Agreements covering the conservation and management of migratory species included in Appendix II.

Agreements are the primary tools for the implementation of the main goal of the Bonn Convention. Moreover, they are more specific than the Convention itself, involve more deliberately the Range States of the species to be conserved, and are easier to put into practice than the whole Bonn Convention.

A Brief Historical Overview

The African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement is an international agreement aiming at the conservation of migratory waterbirds.

"1988" After the first Conference of Parties of the Bonn Convention, where it was decided to prepare an Agreement for the Western Palearctic Anatidae, in 1988 the Dutch Government began developing a draft Western Palearctic Waterfowl Agreement as part of its Western Palearctic Flyway conservation programme. During the process of drafting and consultation, the name of the Agreement was changed into the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), emphasizing the importance of Africa for migratory birds.

"1994" The first consultative meeting of Range States of AEWA was held in Nairobi in June 1994. This meeting strongly supported the concluding of AEWA, and consensus could be achieved on almost all matters of substance.

"1995" In June 1995 the final negotiation meeting was held in The Hague. The Meeting adopted the Agreement by consensus and accepted with appreciation the offer of the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to act as Depositary, to provide at its own expense until 1 January 1999, an Interim Secretariat and to host the first session of the Meeting of the Parties. For more information go to Agreement page [ [ Agreement] ] .

"1996" The Dutch Government, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries, established the Interim Secretariat on 1 January 1996. On 15 August 1996, the Agreement was opened for signature at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

"1999" In accordance with Article XIV, in 1999 the required number of at least fourteen Range States, comprising at least seven from Africa and seven from Eurasian, was achieved and the Agreement entered into force on 1 November 1999. Only a few days later the first Session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP1) took place in Cape Town, South Africa. The Meeting of the Parties is the governing body of the Agreement. For more information on this Meeting you are referred to the Meetings section. [ [ Meeting of the parties] ] .

"2000" As adopted by the Meeting of the Parties, a permanent Secretariat was established and co-located with the Convention Secretariat in Bonn. Following the decision of the Meeting of the Parties, this Secretariat is administered by UNEP.

"2002" The second Session of the Meeting of the Parties took place from 25 - 27 September 2002 in Bonn, Germany. The Proceedings of the Meeting can be downloaded here [ [ Proceedings of MOP] ] .

"2005" The African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, which was concluded under the aegis of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 16 June 1995 celebrated its 10th Anniversary. For more information please visit the news section [ [ AEWA News] ] on the AEWA website.

"2005" To mark the 10th anniversary of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) the Standing Committee of AEWA has established the AEWA Waterbird Conservation Award [ [ AEWA Award] ] in order to recognise and honour institutions and individuals within the Agreement area that have significantly contributed towards the conservation and sustainable use of waterbirds.

"2005" The third Session of the Meeting of the Parties took place from 23-27 October 2005, in Dakar, Senegal.

"2006" AEWA, together with the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and other partner organizations, launched the first World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) [ [ World Migratory Bird Day] ] on the weekend of 8/9 April 2006.

How to become a PARTY to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA)

"Who can become a Party and how?"

In principle, all Range States, or regional economic integration organizations, can become a Party by ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, the means by which a State establishes its consent to be bound by a treaty in international law (Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969, Art. II 1. (b)).

Since the day of its entry into force, all non-signatory range states can become Parties to the Agreement through accession (AEWA Art. XIII (3)). Accession is the act whereby a state undertakes to become a party to a treaty already negotiated and signed by other states, but which, after a certain date, has been closed for signature. It has the same legal effect as ratification: the deposit of the relevant instruments with the depositary, in the case of AEWA the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, binds the State concerned at international law.


Step 1. Preliminary consultations and documentation: In order to involve all government stakeholders at an early stage, an inter-ministerial committee can be set up to ensure an efficient consultation process. In consultation with other ministries involved, (as for example the ministry of finance, agriculture etc.), the competent ministry/Authority for the implementation of the Agreement, usually the ministry of environment, may wish to prepare a document concerning the implications of accession to AEWA. The document should address, among other issues, the administrative and legislative framework necessary for implementing AEWA, the need for new laws, as well as a cost-benefit analysis of becoming a Party to AEWA. This document can be used as an informative basis for the decision regarding accession to AEWA.

Step 2. The national decision-making process: Assuming that there is the political will to proceed, the lead ministry/Authority then consults with the Government authority responsible for drafting ratification instruments for international agreements, normally a legal unit within the ministry of foreign affairs. This responsible authority identifies who at the national level should, as a rule, take a decision on or approve accession to the Agreement. The decision-making authority indicates the necessary documentation and decision-making processes that need to be completed before the instrument can be signed and deposited. In addition to obtaining the necessary approval within the administration of the head of State or head of Government, or by parliamentary debate, such processes may include new legislation, a judicial review, or evaluation at different state levels.

Reservations at the time of accession: A reservation is a formal declaration by a State, at the time it takes the action required to become a party to a treaty, announcing that it does not consider itself bound by some of the treaty’s provisions. (see Art. II (1) (d) of the Vienna Convention). A reservation may enable a State to participate in a multilateral treaty in which it would otherwise be unwilling or unable to participate. AEWA’s provisions are not subject to general reservations. However, specific reservations may be entered on depositing the instrument of accession in respect of any species covered by the Agreement or any specific provision of the Action Plan (AEWA Art. XV). Such a reservation can be withdrawn at any time by notification in writing to the Depositary.

Step 3. Preparing and signing instrument(s): Following the completion of the domestic legislative procedures, where necessary, for the approval of the Agreement, the Government office responsible for doing so prepares the instrument of accession and any instruments of declaration (see AEWA website for sample instrument). In the practice of many countries, this responsibility lies with the ministry of foreign affairs. The instrument must be signed by the head of State, head of Government or minister of foreign affairs. A person other than the head f State, head of Government or minister of foreign affairs may sign a treaty only if that person possesses a valid instrument of full powers.

Step 4. Depositing the instrument of accession: The instrument of accession to AEWA becomes effective only when it has been received by the Depositary, the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (AEWA Art. XVII). This is customarily done through the Ambassador of the relevant State to the Netherlands. Usually, the Ambassador (or Deputy) of the acceding country requests a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and hands over the instrument of accession together with a note signed by him/herself. It is also possible to deposit the instrument of accession at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the acceding country, or, if there is none in that country, at the Embassy closest to it. The Agreement enters into force for the acceding country on the first day of the third month following the deposit.

Information for submission of instruments:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of NetherlandsTreaties DivisionBezuidenhoutseweg 672594 AC The HagueThe NetherlandsTel: +31 70 348 4119Fax: +31 70 348 6000Email:

AEWA Secretariat African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement UN-PremisesHermann-Ehlers-Str. 1053113 Bonn, Germany

Tel: (+49) 228 815 2414Fax: (+49) 228 815 2450E-mail:


External links

* [ AEWA official website]
* [ CMS official website]

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