41st meeting of the Standing Committee
CONVENTION ON WETLANDS (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
41th Meeting of the Standing Committee
Kobuleti, Georgia, 26 April – 1 May 2010
Agenda item 8
Contracting Parties that are consistently in arrears in their payments to the Convention
Action requested: The Standing Committee is invited to note the present status of arrears in Parties’ contributions.
1. In Resolution X.12 (2008), the Conference of the Contracting Parties “URGES Contracting Parties in arrears in their payments of assessed contributions to make a renewed effort to settle them as expeditiously as possible to enhance the financial sustainability of the Convention through contributions by all Contracting Parties, and AGREES that the Standing Committee at its 40th meeting should further consider options for dealing with Parties that are consistently in arrears with payments to the Convention.”
2. At the 34th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC34, 2006), the Secretariat presented a number of opportunities to improve the support given by the Secretariat to members, including: producing timely and easily readable statements of contributions, including all unpaid portions, for Contracting Parties in arrears; requesting Parties that are in arrears with their contributions to settle them by the established deadlines; and requesting Parties experiencing difficulties in meeting their financial contributions to propose a plan to provide for the payment of contributions in arrears within a limited period. In assisting Contracting Parties to develop such a plan, the Chair of the Standing Committee, the Standing Committee regional representatives, and the Secretary General should make contacts, through diplomatic channels, with those Parties having arrears to plan settlement of their outstanding contributions.
3. These steps have all been taken, with mixed results. During 2009 we have received previously overdue contributions from the following countries:
Gambia, Honduras, Islamic Republic of Iran, Mauritius, Mongolia, Montenegro, Paraguay, Serbia and United Arab Emirates.
However, a number of Contracting Parties remain in arrears, with a consistent core of Parties that have never paid their contributions. A schedule of these is attached.
5. Options have been suggested to reduce the flow and priority of services provided by the Secretariat to Parties with arrears. For example, the Standing Committee could advise the Secretariat to manage requests from Contracting Parties with arrears in the following ways:
- by not processing further Small Grants Fund (SGF) proposals;
- by providing Secretariat advice and missions (including Ramsar Advisory Missions) only in emergency situations;
- by providing delegate support to attend regional and COP meetings only if all other Parties have been assisted according to existing rules, and in any event only if the Contracting Party is not more than three years in arrears.
6. Finally, there exists the option that Contracting Parties more than three years in arrears could be made ineligible to vote in the Convention’s meetings, ineligible for election to the Standing Committee, and ineligible to make nominations for membership of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP).
7. However, all of these possibilities seek to provide essentially punitive measures and would inevitably restrict the Secretariat in assisting all Parties to fully implement their Convention commitments. The Secretary General does not recommend that course of action.
8. As agreed at SC40, the Secretariat will continue to apply a mixture of awareness-raising and counseling as its principal mechanisms and hopes that these will be sufficient to help the situation continue to improve.
9. The Secretariat would however like to request that all Standing Committee members, especially those on the Subgroup on Finance, note the Contracting Parties in their regions that have long overdue contributions, particularly those that have never paid since acceding to the Convention, and strongly encourage these Contracting Parties to begin to address their arrears.