Observer status in United Nations bodies

Date: 03.04.2019

Dear Administrative Authorities,
Each year, the Secretariat of the Convention responds to requests for input to the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, which takes place under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). After submitting information in 2017, the Secretariat then requested to register to participate in the HLPF in order to follow and support the discussions, and to raise awareness in the United Nations of wetlands and the Ramsar Convention. However, it was not possible to register because the Convention, and its Secretariat, do not have observer status in ECOSOC.
Consequently, in the same year, and following consultation within the Standing Committee, Uruguay, as the Chair of the Committee, put forward a draft resolution to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) seeking observer status for the Secretariat of the Convention. This draft resolution was discussed by the UNGA (and its “Sixth Committee”) at its 72nd session, in 2017, and was postponed for consideration at the 73rd session in 2018.
The Standing Committee discussed this issue at its 54th meeting (SC54, April 2018). Several Contracting Parties stressed the importance of better engagement for the Convention in the environment-related processes that take place within fora of the United Nations. Following a discussion, the Committee adopted the following decision:
Decision SC54-07: The Standing Committee instructed the Secretariat, in conjunction with interested Parties, to continue exploring options for gaining access to meetings of the United Nations General Assembly and related high-level fora.
At SC55 (Dubai, October 2018), the Chair reported on the steps taken so far and noted that this matter had been further postponed for consideration at the 74th session of the UNGA, in 2019, since there was still no consensus among Member States. The Secretariat recalled the various options that had been pursued to try to raise the visibility of the Convention within the UNGA.
Following a discussion, SC55 adopted the following decision:
Decision SC55-12: The Standing Committee instructed the Secretariat, with support from an informal group of interested Contracting Parties, to bring forward a structured proposal, taking into account the various options, for consideration at SC57.
In order to make progress, I have written to the President of ECOSOC in order to seek guidance regarding the process for requesting observer status specifically in that forum of the United Nations. This would be important since it coordinates an overview of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
While waiting for a response and pursuant to Decision SC55-12, I would like to identify which Parties would be interested to liaise with the Ramsar Secretariat to bring forward a structured proposal and explore the various options for gaining access to relevant meetings of the UNGA and related high-level fora. I will report any progress at the forthcoming 57th meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee.
If you would be interested, please would you let me know by email by 16 April. Please send your message to the following email address:
After that date, I will correspond directly with the representatives of the Parties that have expressed an interest, in order to exchange views regarding the best way forward.
Yours faithfully,
Martha Rojas Urrego
Martha Rojas Urrego
Secretary General
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
28 rue Mauverney, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland
Tel. +41 22 999 0180; mobile +41 79 570 7376 fax +41 22 999 0169