The Standing Committee
The Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention is the intersessional executive body which represents the COP between its triennial meetings, within the framework of the decisions made by the COP. The Contracting Parties that are members of the SC are elected by each meeting of the COP to serve for the three years until the next one. The SC was established by Resolution 3.3 of the 1987 Conference of the Contracting Parties. Its tasks were first set out in the Framework for Implementation of the Ramsar Convention (Resolution 5.1, 1993), but are presently defined by Resolution VII.1 (1999) as amended by Resolution XI.19 (2012):
"The Contracting Parties that have accepted to be elected as Regional Representatives on the Standing Committee shall have the following tasks:
- To designate their delegates to the Standing Committee taking into account their significant responsibilities as Regional Representatives, according to paragraph 10 of this resolution, and to make every effort that their delegates or their substitutes attend all meetings of the Committee.
- When there is more than one Regional Representative in a regional group, to maintain regular contacts and consultations with the other regional representative(s).
- To maintain regular contacts and consultations with the Contracting Parties in their regional group, and to use the opportunities of travel within their regions and of attending regional or international meetings to consult about issues related to the Convention and to promote its objectives.
- To canvass the opinions of the Contracting Parties in their regional group before meetings of the Standing Committee.
- To advise the Secretariat in setting the agenda of regional meetings.
- To assume additional responsibilities by serving as members of the subgroups established by the Standing Committee.
- To provide advice as requested by the Chairperson and/or the chairs of subgroups and/or the Secretariat of the Convention.
- In the regions concerned, to make deliberate efforts to encourage other countries to join the Convention."
The Standing Committee normally meets once each year, traditionally at the offices of the Secretariat in Switzerland - in addition, it meets just prior to each meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, at which time it transforms itself into the Conference Committee for the duration of the COP; and then again on the last day of the COP, when the newly elected members choose their chair and vice chair and set the date for their first full business meeting.
There are presently 16 regional and two ex officio members of the Standing Committee, chosen on a proportional basis from the Ramsar regions:
a) one representative for regional groups with 1 to 12 Contracting Parties,
b) two representatives for regional groups with 13 to 24 Contracting Parties,
c) three representatives for regional groups with 25 to 36 Contracting Parties,
d) four representatives for regional groups with 37 to 48 Contracting Parties,
e) five representatives for regional groups with 49 to 60 Contracting Parties.
In addition to the Regional Representatives, the host countries of the most recent and the upcoming meetings of the COP are full members, and the host countries of the Ramsar Secretariat and Wetlands International, as well as the five International Partner Organizations themselves, serve as permanent observers. All other Contracting Parties are always welcome to participate in Standing Committee meetings and working groups as observers, and other countries and non-governmental organizations may participate as observers in the absence of objections.
Subsidiary bodies of the Standing Committee, 2013-2015
Subgroup on Finance (established by Decision SC16-1, 1995)
(members: English, français, español)
Subgroup on COP11 (Decision SC34-6)
Subgroup on the Strategic Plan (as needed, Decision SC34-5)
Management Working Group (Resolution IX.24, Decision SC34-3)
(members: English, français, español)
Transition Committee of the MWG (Resolution X.4)
CEPA Oversight Panel (Resolution IX.18, Decision SC34-12)
STRP Oversight Committee (Resolution IX.11)
Standing Committee 2013-2015 subregional representatives