The 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

20/10/2008


"Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People"
10th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Changwon, Republic of Korea, 28 October - 4 November 2008
Agenda item XII
Ramsar COP10 DOC. 20
Addendum 1

Additional information concerning the
legal status of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat

Note by the Secretariat:

1.    This legal and institutional assessment is seen by the Ramsar Secretariat as a positive and beneficial force that will contribute to the vigour and productivity of the Convention as a whole, and consequently, to the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands throughout the world. Therefore, the word “assessment” shall take a positive connotation. The results of the assessment are meant to provide trustworthy information that will facilitate the decision of Contracting Parties at COP10 to improve the image of the Convention and enhance the recognition of wetlands as important assets for conservation and sustainable development.

2.    The present document provides the results of the work undertaken by the Ramsar Secretariat and incorporates updates on all developments since COP9.

Acknowledgement

3.    The Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention would like to express our gratitude to all those who provided their assistance and support to give us the possibility to make progress in this process. We would like to thank the Swiss authorities for their increased support and their actions to help identify solutions.

4.    The Secretariat is grateful to UNEP for their support, including technical and financial assistance provided to advance this process. We appreciate the support that made possible a comprehensive legal analysis and the assessment of the financial implications of options 1 (Secretariat to continue to be administered by IUCN with improvements) and 3 (Secretariat to be administered by the UN system).

5.    The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to present below the key findings of this assessment to the Contracting Parties for consideration by COP10.

1)    Decision to undertake the assessment of the legal status of the Secretariat of the Convention

6.    Through Resolution IX.10 (2005), the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties instructed “the Secretary General to engage in a consultative process with appropriate bodies such as IUCN and UNESCO, as well as the government of the host country and other interested organizations and governments, regarding the options, as well as legal and practical implications, for the transformation of the status of the Ramsar Secretariat towards an International Organization or other status whilst still recognizing and maintaining its links with IUCN and the host country”, and requested the Secretary General to report on the outcome of these consultations through the Standing Committee to COP10.

2)    Objectives of the assessment

7.    The key objective of the assessment is to spell out feasible options for addressing the legal and institutional status of the Ramsar Secretariat, including the consequences for:

  • The work of the Convention as a whole
  • The secretariat budget
  • The secretariat staff.

3)     Possible options

8.    Possible approaches to addressing the challenges faced by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat are based on the analysis of three options:

Option 1: improved status quo: IUCN to continue hosting the Ramsar Secretariat with significant improvement
Option 2: the Secretariat to be registered as a legal, international intergovernmental organization
Option 3: the Secretariat to be administered by a UN agency, such as UNEP

4)    Suggestion by the Secretary General

9.    The Ramsar Secretary General recommends to the Ramsar Contracting Parties to examine the key findings of the process, taking into account the following criteria to assess each option:

  • improving the image of the Convention and enhancing the recognition of wetlands as important assets for conservation and sustainable development, including the role of wetlands in biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, desertification control, food security, human health, tourism, poverty reduction and other economic and social activities;
  • enhancing the overall implementation of the Convention;
  • improving interactions between the Convention as a whole and external institutions, including the Ramsar International Organization Partners (IOPs), the UN system, donor community, and the business sector;
  • maintaining and reinforcing scientific and technical capability;
  • tracking the costs of the administration and management of the Secretariat, including budget management, especially with regard to income and expenditures;
  • developing and maintaining staff;
  • adopting and implementing policies and strategies;
  • promoting interactions between the Ramsar Secretariat and the Standing Committee, including subgroups and oversight panels; and
  • considering the requirements and the procedure, including the time frame for the completion of the process to adopt and implement each option

5)    Key findings of the assessment

10.    Table 1 below provides an overview of the three options:

Table 1: Background to each of the three options and how they can be achieved (adapted from legal consultant’s report)

 

Option 1: IUCN to continue hosting the Secretariat with significant improvement

Option 2: The Secretariat to be registered as a legal International, Intergovernmental Organization

Option 3: The Secretariat to be administered by a UN agency such as UNEP

Key characteristics of each option

Article 8 (1) of the Ramsar Convention designates IUCN to perform its Bureau ( now “Secretariat”) functions until such time as another organization or government is appointed by a majority of two-thirds of all Contracting Parties.

By Resolution 4.15 (1990) the COP provided that the secretariat would follow policies that are determined by the Conference of the Contracting Parties and that. the Secretary General shall be responsible to the Conference of the Contracting Parties and, between meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, to the Standing Committee for all matters under the Convention except for those requiring the exercise of legal personality on behalf of the Convention (e.g. establishment of the separate bank account, formal personnel and contract administration, etc.). Formal responsibility to the Conference of the Contracting Parties for these matters rests with the Director-General of IUCN.

Through a Delegation of Authority, the Director-General of IUCN has transferred to the Secretary General of the Ramsar Secretariat most of the powers that were vested in the Director-General of IUCN by the Ramsar Convention and its Conference of Parties. For example, on finance and budgetary matters the Secretary General is authorised by this Agreement to receive and expend Convention funds, including payment of Bureau staff salaries and benefits; purchase and rental of supplies, materials, and equipment; authority to enter into contracts, and otherwise provide for the financial administration of the Convention’s funds by means of a separate Ramsar account. On personnel issues, the delegation is equally comprehensive. The Agreement states, “The authority of the Director General of IUCN to select, hire or dismiss Bureau staff and assign salary levels, tasks and job descriptions, set performance standards, evaluate performance, and provide for employee awards, all in line with IUCN personnel provisions, is hereby delegated to the Secretary General.”

The above Agreement is clear evidence of the complete and unequivocal transfer of authority on financial, budgetary, personnel and facility management from the Director General of the IUCN to the Secretary General of the Ramsar Secretariat. Such transfer of authority and attendant powers must be taken to carry with it the vesting of sufficient legal personality in the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, to be exercised by its Secretary General, to exercise the authority so delegated.

This option aims to establish the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention as an international organization (IGO) with the requisite international legal personality.

No global MEA concluded since 1972 has established a new intergovernmental organization (IGO) for its institutional machinery.

It is, of course, possible in law to establish the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention as an international organization, but that would require the amendment of the Ramsar Convention text. In such event, the Secretariat would be invested with fuller international legal personality that would enable it to engage in treaty making, have diplomatic immunity before national tribunals, and have legal standing before international legal tribunals.

The Swiss authorities have informed that a new federal law (192.12), which entered into force on 1 January 2008, allows Switzerland to register the Ramsar Secretariat as an International Organization or IGO through the conclusion of a “host agreement” (accord de siège) and that this option could also provide diplomatic privileges, immunities.

However, this option comes with serious financial and legal consequences. The Secretariat would have to establish its own rules and regulations as well as a Social Security scheme, obtain staff insurances, make jurisdictional arrangement similar to the administrative court of the UN or the ILO, and obtain a tax exemption for all staff members, including Swiss citizens.

Under this option, the Secretariat would join an appropriate IGO within the UN system, such as UNEP.

According to the provisions of Article 8(1) of the Ramsar Convention, a decision of two-thirds of the Contracting Parties would be necessary to appoint another organization to carry out the secretariat functions of the Ramsar Convention.

Since such a request would carry with its significant financial implications, the Executive-Director of the UN agency such as UNEP would need to seek approval of its Governing Council to take action thereon.

Under this option UNEP and the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG) provide to CITES in return for the 13% of budget that is charged for services:
•   A P4 staff position for fund management;
•   Two General Service staff positions for Finance and Personnel;
•   A back-up administration team in Nairobi;
•   Payroll handled by UNOG;
•   Protocol handled by UNOG;
•   Visa processing and some travel arrangements provided by UNOG (for official travel of 8+ hours, business class is allowed);
•   Medical services for duty travel provided by UNOG;
•   Language classes;
•   Diplomatic pouch;
•   Staff at Grade P5 and above get “Corps Diplomatique (CD)” plates for their cars;
•   Petrol card for duty free petrol + use of UN duty free shop;
•   UN privileges and immunities are extended to CITES Secretariat staff;
•   Legitimization card is issued by the Swiss for non-Swiss staff but has different colors for different grades.

Process to achieve this Option

This option can be achieved by the following:

  • Secretary General to enter into negotiation with a) IUCN to formalize a new arrangement of cooperation, and b) UNEP to strengthen cooperation in regard to its activities relating to environmental governance.
  • The passing of a COP Resolution at COP10 that a), when Secretariat staff attend international meetings, Contracting Parties, UN, MEA and IGOs recognize their credentials and afford them the same legal assistance as secretariats from other MEAs, and b) calls upon all Contracting Parties to facilitate the delivery of visas to Ramsar Secretariat staff when the staff are traveling on official business, and c) to provide these Secretariat staff with the necessary logistical and security assistance during their field visits.

This would involve:

  • Gaining the support of two-thirds of the Contracting Parties to amend the articles of the Convention to make the intention of the parties clear and unambiguous regarding the creation of an IGO, and
  • Concluding a “host agreement” (accord de siège) with the Swiss Government to address some of the international personality deficits faced by the Secretariat, as well as to strengthen the domestic legal personality attributes of the Secretariat

According to Article 8 (1) of the Convention, the COP by a decision of two thirds of all Contracting Parties would request the UNEP Governing Council to consider authorizing the Executive Director of UNEP to provide secretariat functions for the Convention.

Expected time required to achieve this option

Negotiations needed with IUCN, the Swiss Government, UNEP, and a decision agreed at COP10 can be achieved in the short- to medium-term.

Agreement from Contracting Parties required and time needed to set Secretariat up as an IGO. Can be achieved in the medium- to long-term.

Negotiations needed with UNEP and can be achieved in the medium- to long-term.

Table 2: Ability of the three options to resolve the problems identified by the Secretariat’s Working Group and which were presented to SC36 (DOC. SC36-15) and SC37 (DOC. SC37-2) (adapted from legal consultant’s report).

Problem to be solved

ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES FACING THE RAMSAR SECRETARIAT UNDER THE THREE OPTIONS

OPTION 1: IUCN to continue hosting the Secretariat with significant improvement

OPTION 2: The Secretariat to be registered as a legal International, Intergovernmental Organization

OPTION 3: The Secretariat to be administered by a UN agency such as UNEP

1. Difficulty in obtaining travel visas for staff without international organization legitimization

PARTLY SOLVED/
REQUIRES FURTHER NEGOTIATION AND ACTIONS BY ALL CONTRACTING PARTIES
Non-Swiss staff holding ‘Permit B or C’ will soon be allowed to travel (as a tourist for up to 90 days) inside the entire Schengen Area without the need of a specific visa (most likely as of 1 January 2009).

Beyond the Schengen area, it remains the responsibility of Contracting Parties to facilitate travel to or through their countries for Secretariat staff. This duty could be reinforced in a COP Resolution that calls upon all Contracting Parties to facilitate the delivery of visas to Ramsar Secretariat staff traveling on official business.

SOLVED
The legitimization card would be issued by Switzerland, and this card is the best tool for obtaining a visa from consulates in Geneva.

SOLVED
In addition to the legitimization card that is issued by the host country, the United Nations provide a Laissez-Passer that is recognized by most consulates. Furthermore, a special internal service is available for visa processing.

2. Difficulty in obtaining recognition of Ramsar Secretariat staff at major international meetings.

PARTLY SOLVED/
REQUIRES FURTHER NEGOTIATION AND ACTIONS BY ALL PARTIES
A draft Resolution could be adopted at COP10 requesting Contracting Parties, UN, MEA and IGOs to recognize the credentials of delegations from the Ramsar Secretariat on the same legal basis as Secretariats from other MEAs. Such A decision would not be binding but would most likely be respected as a request from the COP comprising states parties.

The Resolution could also urge the Ramsar Secretary General to intensify the action that he is taking with relevant organizations, including the United Nations system, to secure for the Secretariat the same status as is accorded by them to the secretariats of other MEAs.

PARTLY SOLVED/
REQUIRES FURTHER NEGOTIATION
The status of an International Organization is likely to raise the profile of the Secretariat, but since it will remain outside the UN system, there is no guarantee that the UN system will be more accessible than in the present situation.

SOLVED
As a UN body, the Secretariat would have access to all relevant UN meetings with a clear recognition of the staff representing the Secretariat.

3. Potential impossibility of making binding contracts as Ramsar has no legal power to sign contracts

SOLVED
The delegation of authority from the IUCN Director-General to the Ramsar Secretary General, signed on 29 January 1993, expressly delegates the authority to enter into contracts (paragraph I (B)). Accordingly, there should not be a legal impediment to the Secretary General entering into contracts that are valid within Switzerland under Swiss Law.

SOLVED
This option would provide the legal status to make binding contracts.

PARTLY SOLVED/
REQUIRES FURTHER NEGOTIATION
The power to make binding contracts will remain with the host organization. Some delegation of this authority is the general practice.

4. Ability for the Secretariat to enter into international cooperation agreements

PARTLY SOLVED/
REQUIRES FURTHER NEGOTIATION
Since the Ramsar Secretariat, like other MEA secretariats, has not been granted full international legal personality by its Contracting Parties, it would be prudent for the Secretariat to conclude MOUs with governments rather than formal treaties or “binding agreements” with States (e.g. host country arrangements for convening meetings of Ramsar COPs). Similarly, it is appropriate to conclude MOUs with the UN, its agencies or other MEA secretariats.

SOLVED
A new federal law (192.12) entered into force on 1 January 2008 which allows Switzerland to register the Ramsar Secretariat as an International Organization or an Intergovernmental Organization (IGO) through the conclusion of a “host agreement” (accord de siège). This option provides diplomatic privileges, immunities, and specific diplomatic instruments that may be a solution to this problem (but this option has it own shortcomings).

NOT SOLVED/
REQUIRES FURTHER NEGOTIATION
Although an MEA secretariat may be authorized to enter into arrangements ‘necessary for the discharge of its functions’, the text of any MEA ‘generally spells out the functions of the Secretariat’ but the Secretariat is ‘usually an integral part of an existing IGO’.

5. Legal liability of host organization for Ramsar actions (in case of staff disputes, misappropriation of funds, etc.)

SOLVED
This matter is dealt with in the Service Agreements that are entered into between the IUCN Director-General and the Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention. Accordingly, the Ramsar Secretariat is responsible for ensuring that adequate insurance coverage is taken to cover such eventualities.

SOLVED
Not an issue as the Secretariat would be fully responsible for all administrative, financial and human resource matters.

PARTLY SOLVED/
REQUIRES FURTHER NEGOTIATION
The legal liability might be outside the control of the Secretariat, since another UN body would have the administrative and financial responsibilities concerning the Secretariat.

6. Difficulty some Parties have in paying contributions to Ramsar Secretariat in the absence of legal identity

NOT A MAJOR ISSUE; PARTLY SOLVED
The financial rules and regulations of IUCN will continue to apply to the Secretariat, even if it has its own account.

SOLVED

PARTLY SOLVED
The financial rules and regulations of the host agency are applied even if the secretariat has its own bank account.

7. The host organization controls the Secretariat’s financial procedures in ways that may not be suitable for us.

 

PARTLY SOLVED/
REQUIRES FURTHER NEGOTIATION
Should be discussed and negotiated between IUCN and Ramsar within the framework of the negotiation of the service contracts to reach a mutually satisfactory arrangement. This matter could also be included in a Resolution put before the COP for adoption.

SOLVED
This would no longer be a problem.

PARTLY SOLVED/
REQUIRES FURTHER NEGOTIATION
In the case of UNEP, a Trust Fund to hold money received by Secretariat is managed by Executive-Director of UNEP with 13% administrative fee. (Needs to negotiate with UNEP and impress on them that the Secretariat wishes to set up its own bank account.)

8. Lack of staff access when in the field to UN logistical and security assistance

PARTLY SOLVED/
REQUIRES FURTHER NEGOTIATION
Provision of logistical and security assistance to the staff of the Ramsar Secretariat when they travel to member countries is the responsibility of the member governments. Accordingly, it is possible for this matter, too, to be alluded to in any Resolution that the Standing Committee may wish to recommend to the Conference of Parties on Secretariat Matters.

 NOT SOLVED

SOLVED
This option provides all security arrangements and operational tools directly managed by a specialized UN unit.

9. Non-Swiss employees may be losing privileges of being taxpayers in their communes

NOT A MAJOR ISSUE; PARTLY SOLVED
The Swiss authorities confirm that non-Swiss employees of IUCN and Ramsar are exempt from taxes and are not considered taxpayers in their communes. It appears that the only privilege foregone by non-Swiss staff so far identified is access for small children to communal crèches.

NOT SOLVED

REQUIRES SPECIFIC ARRANGEMENTS

COULD BE SOLVED

10. Work permits for spouses of non-Swiss staff members

SOLVED
The Swiss authorities have informed the Secretariat that, in principle, spouses should normally be able to obtain work permits without major problems, as Switzerland has a policy of facilitating the access of spouses to the labor market (as long as they fulfill the requirements of existing job positions, they can work in their respective professions if they are offered a contract) and that the employer (i.e., the Ramsar Secretary General) needs to actively support permit requests from spouses of staff. To this end, he should contact the Swiss Mission in Geneva so that that they can facilitate the process.

COULD BE SOLVED
The privileges, immunities and other advantages COULD include a procedure that facilitates access to job opportunities for spouses/ husbands.

SOLVED
The privileges, immunities and other advantages include a procedure that facilitates access to job opportunities for spouses/ husbands.

Table 3. Summary of the implications that will emerge after adopting a particular option (information mainly from consultant’s report, financial implications, and UNEP input)

Implications for each option

Option 1: IUCN to continue hosting the Secretariat with significant improvement

Option 2: The Secretariat to be registered as a legal International, Intergovernmental Organization

Option 3: The Secretariat to be administered by a UN agency such as UNEP

Legal Implications

 

 

 

International legal personality

 

 

 

By Resolution 4.15 (1990) the COP provided that the secretariat would follow policies that are determined by the Conference of the Contracting Parties and that the Secretary General shall be responsible to the Conference of the Contracting Parties and, between meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, to the Standing Committee for all matters under the Convention except for those requiring the exercise of legal personality on behalf of the Convention

The Secretariat would be invested with fuller international legal personality that would enable it to engage in treaty making, have diplomatic immunity and privileges and pave the way for addressing obtaining visas, being registered as an IGO at UN and other meetings, signing contracts and legally liable for all administrative, financial and human resources matters.

  • Not invested with international legal personality as the secretariat duties will be performed by a UN agency (instead of IUCN)
  • Need to be derived from the will of the Contracting Parties,
  • Needs approval by the Governing Council of UNEP for the creation of a Trust Funds

Financial implications

 

 

 

Costs
This option does not entail significant additional financial costs, except the costs of intensified Secretariat activities arising from increased cooperation with governments and other IGOs, NGOs, and private sector.

 

Costs
Most likely similar to the costs of option 3, i.e. a significant increase of at least 25% of the annual core budget of the Secretariat.

There would be a need to find alternative administrative, financial and accounting services that are currently provided by IUCN.

The Secretariat would need to set up its own social security, staff insurances and pension schemes, e.g., social security scheme (equivalent AVS/1er pillar) and pension scheme (2e pillar), which has to be submitted to the relevant Swiss Authority for validation.

Costs
This option would involve an increase of over CHF 1 million (Swiss francs) above the annual budget of the Secretariat, i.e., 24.43% without any consideration of intensified Secretariat activities.

(See table 4: Financial implications of options 1 and 3).

Implications for Staff

Does not entail changes in the staff or salary grades schemes

The Secretary General will continue to be appointed by the Standing Committee, with a contract signed by the IUCN Director-General.

Other Secretariat staff members will continue to be recruited by the Secretary General and the IUCN DG, subject to IUCN staff rules and regulations.

Swiss social security system and pension system will continue to apply.

Non-Swiss staff with ‘Permis B or C’ will continue to be able to take up any work offered in Switzerland.

 

The Secretariat would have to set up its own salary grade schemes and regulations

Secretariat staff to become UN employees, i.e. they would have to leave the Swiss social security system and pension system. Individual solutions would need to be identified for the reimbursement of earlier payments at retirement age.

Non-Swiss staff would have to give up their ‘Permis B or C’ which allows them to take up any work offered in Switzerland.

The Ramsar Convention’s Secretary General would be appointed by the Executive-Director of the UN agency and accountable to, and report directly to him/her on all matter relating to secretariat functions and on all other matters to the extent that they relate to any aspect of the administrative functioning of the Secretariat.

Other Secretariat staff would also be recruited by the UNEP Executive-Director. Depending on successful negotiations, existing staff could become UN staff, subject to UN staff rules and regulations.

Entering the UN system would require Secretariat staff to become UN employees, i.e. they would have to leave the Swiss social security system and pension system. Individual solutions would need to be identified for the reimbursement of earlier payments at retirement age.

Non-Swiss staff would have to give up their ‘Permis B or C’ which allows them to take up any work offered in Switzerland. This ‘permis’ would be replaced by a UN “carte de legitimization” which they could  retain until they leave their work at the UN. After leaving the UN, staff would have to apply again to obtain a new Swiss work or residence permit.
There is a need to clarify impacts on all Secretariat staff, especially those close to retirement, before joining the UN system.

Implications for current the Ramsar Internship Program

Does not entail changes in the program

Does not entail changes in the program

In the case of UNEP, there will be no salary for interns; it will be difficult to maintain the same level of commitment and achievements without a salary for the interns.

Implications for partnership with the Ramsar International Organization Partners (IOPs)

Does not entail changes in the partnership

Negotiations will be needed

Negotiations will be needed to clarify the partnership

Implications for partnership with other MEAS

Negotiations are needed to improve the existing partnerships

Negotiations are needed to improve the existing partnerships

UNEP would be better positioned to coordinate the partnerships

Implications for other partnerships, including business sector

Approval of principles and criteria by the COP will allow to extend partnerships

Negotiations are needed to improve the existing partnerships

Approval of principles and criteria will allow to extend partnerships

Negotiations are needed to improve the existing partnerships

 

Negotiations are needed to improve the existing partnerships

Approval of principles and criteria by the COP and the host agency will allow to extend partnership

Table 4 : Financial implications of Options 1 and 3

Expenditures (in ‘000 Swiss francs

Option 1

Option 2

Comments

 Staff Cost

2,588

3,576

 

 Staff Provision

  25

 

included in UNEP staff cost

 Hiring Interns

  26

 

UNEP financial rules do not allow payments of interns

 Travel

  124

  124

 

 Purchase of equipment

  15

  15

 

 IUCN - Admin*

  225

 

included in UNEP 13%PSC

 IUCN - HR*

  82

 

included in UNEP 13%PSC

 IUCN - IMG*

  91

 

to be clarified by Ramsar

 IUCN Fin/Accounting*

  97

 

included in UNEP 13%PSC

 Database

  170

  170

 

 Communications

  151

  151

 

 Reporting

  26

  26

 

 Standing commttee, STRP and Reg Rep support

  47

  47

 

 STRP Support Services

  206

  206

 

 Support to Regional Initiatives

  279

  279

 

 Project Subcontracting/External Grants

 

 

 

 Depreciation

 

 

 

 Auditor’s Fees

 

 

included in UNEP 13%PSC

 Stationery and office supplies

  87

  87

 

 Public relations/ Promotion

 

 

 

 Outreach CEPA

  30

  30

 

 Hospitality

 

 

 

 Bank Charges

 

 

 

 Miscellaneous

 

 

 

 Provision on outstanding dues

  50

  50

 

 Exchange loss

  15

  15

 

 Cop related expenses

  33

  33

 

 Rent

 

 

 

 

 Total Expenditure

  4,367

  4,809

 

UNEP 13%PSC

  -

  625

 

 Grand Total

  4,367

  5,434

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Allocation of IUCN charges between the categories not consistent across years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

** Includes depreciation, auditors fee, stationary and PR, hospitality and bank charges

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 5: Summary of issues where the Secretariat needs to have further negotiation with or information from the Swiss Government, IUCN or UNEP, regarding the three options, so that there can be further clarification or agreement.

 

Issues

Negotiations needed with

Contracting Parties

IUCN

UNEP and UNOG

International Legal Personality

 

For Options 1:

Required actions

This option involves a series of actions to be taken to improve the status quo:

  • IUCN and the Secretariat to enter into negotiations to formalize a new arrangement of cooperation more appropriate to current and future requirements.
  • Contracting Parties to provide the Secretariat staff with the necessary visas for official travel and provide security and logistical support at a level no less than what is provided to the staff of other MEA Secretariats.
  • Secretariat to strengthen cooperation with UNEP in regard to its activities relating to environmental governance, in particular, strengthening the synergies and interlinkages among MEAs and related technology support and capacity building.

Option 3:

The Secretariat needs increasing support from UNEP and UNOG to
- enable the Convention to be accorded the same status as other MEAs relating to the realization of the aims and objectives of the Convention, thus enhancing its standing as a equal member of the global network of MEAs dealing with the conservation of natural resources;

- enable the Ramsar Secretariat to collaborate closely and effectively with the governments, the United Nations and its agencies and bodies as well as other MEA institutions in the implementation of the Ramsar Convention.

Financial issues

For Option 1: Negotiations needed to ensure IUCN controls the Secretariat’s financial procedures in ways agreeable to the Secretariat.

For Option 3: As UNEP would establish a Trust Fund to hold money received by Secretariat, which will be managed by the Executive-Director of UNEP with 13% administrative fee, there would be a need to negotiate to ensure the arrangement is acceptable to the Secretariat.

Staff can easily obtain travel visas

Option 1:
Ramsar Administrative Authorities to undertake national consultations with relevant ministries to facilitate travel visas

 

Secretariat delegations are formally recognized at international meetings.

For Option 1:
Ramsar Administrative Authorities to undertake national consultations with relevant ministries to facilitate recognition of the Secretariat staff in international meetings

 

Secretariat has legal power to make binding contracts.

For Option 1: Negotiations with IUCN to maintain the delegation of authority

For Option 3: Negotiation on delegation of authority.

Legal liability of host organization for Secretariat actions (in case of misappropriation of funds, staff disputes, etc.).

For Option 1: Negotiations needed with IUCN

For Option 3: Negotiation on delegation of authority with relevant UN agency

When in the field, Secretariat staff have access to a network of logistical and security assistance.

Ramsar Administrative Authorities to undertake national consultations with relevant ministries to facilitate security arrangements

For Option 3: Need to clarify whether the interns are covered by such assistance when they travel overseas for work.

All Secretariat staff have equal access to travel, social and residency rights and work opportunities (especially spouses), regardless of their country of origin.

For Option 1: Negotiations needed.

 

Other staff issues

 

Option 3.
Need to negotiate an agreement for existing staff to enter the UN rather than advertising and recruiting anew.

Negotiations needed on salary grades.

For older staff, negotiation needed on reimbursement of earlier pension payments at retirement age

Continuation of Ramsar Internship Programme

 

For Option 3: Negotiations needed.

Partnership with IOPS

 

For Option 3: Negotiations needed.

Partnership with Business sector

 

For Option 3: Negotiations needed.

 For reasons of economy, this document is printed in a limited number, and will not be distributed at the meeting. Delegates are requested to bring their copies to the meeting and not to request additional copies.

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