The Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative, as such, does not have a legal status. MedWet is in fact an informal network of governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations that have agreed to work together for a common cause. There is no formal legal and registered document that gives legal existence to this network.
The existing MedWet Terms of Reference represent a series of rules that the members of the network have adopted to facilitate their cooperation. The recognition of MedWet by Resolutions of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention as one of its Regional Initiatives give to MedWet a certain degree of legitimacy but it does not constitute a form of legal status.
Nevertheless, this lack of a legal status has not prevented MedWet from operating in the regional arena and from making a useful contribution towards its main objective: to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of Mediterranean wetlands.
The professors of International Public Law from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Dr. Rosa M. Fernández Egea and Dr. Esther López Barrero, have prepared a “Report on the possible international legal status of the MedWet Initiative”. The report presents the pros and cons of the following alternatives:
- MedWet could become an International Governmental Organization (IGO), such the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, the Union for the Mediterranean, the International Tropical Timber Organization, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union; or
- become a de facto IGO, such as the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs); or
- become an international non-governmental organization (INGO) such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which “is constituted in accordance with Article 60 of the Swiss Civil Code as an international association of governmental and non-governmental members. Therefore it has legal personality and may perform any act in conformity with its objectives.
The 12th Meeting of the Mediterranean Wetlands Committee (Paris, France, 7-11 February 2016) considered this matter and adopted the following Decision:
- HAVING ANALYSED the different options for developing and obtaining a legal status for the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative; and
- HAVING CONCLUDED that the best option would reside in an appropriate type of arrangement within the framework of the Ramsar Convention,
- INVITES the Ramsar Standing Committee:
- to study options for providing legal coverage to well-established Ramsar Regional Initiatives, such as MedWet, as part of the arrangements for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention;
- to consider possible arrangements for the operation of the secretariats of well-established Ramsar Regional Initiatives; and
- to submit a draft Resolution on this matter to the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention; and
- REQUESTS the MedWet Steering Group and the MedWet Coordinator to make the necessary follow-up to this decision and report to the 13th MedWet/Com meeting.