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Protection of Migratory Species


The Convention on the Conservation of the Migratory Species and Wildlife provides for the protection of Birds which is ratified by several countries of the world which are the range states of several migratory birds.  The Convention on Biological Diversity provides for in situ conservation and promotion of the prevention of ecosystems natural habitats and the maintenance of viable population of species in the natural surrounding[1]s.  The United Nations general assembly in its World Charter for Nature[2] resolved the necessity of Environment protection in significance to note that general variability on the earth should not be compromised and the population levels of all life forms must be at least sufficient for their survival.  It also provides for the duty of every state to prevent activities that counter the promotion of sustainable development the one which includes development of Technology along with conservation of natural resources.  The Conservation of Migratory Species provides for appendix one and two depending upon whether they are endangered and if they are to be subjected by the agreement. The biodiversity protects and supports the food chain which in turn supports the cycle of various life forms in the earth.


Human beings play an elemental role in the food chain with their intellectual contribution.  Any derogatory acts against the biodiversity will adversely affect the life of human beings.  The right to life in international law is protected by The Covenant on  Civil and political rights[3].  This forms an intersection between how the biodiversity is intercepting the right of human beings.   The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals provides for few exemptions  from the provision of the taking of animals belonging to its appendix 1 for scientific purposes.  This facilitates the development of genetic variability of few endangered species which can be developed under the Ex situ conservation,  which means the conservation not in its natural environment but in an artificial  ecological mechanism that provides all the amenities of natural habitat.  Some sort of projects also suggest for laboratory projects for an extremely endangered or extinct species.  This has led to successful development of captive breeding Projects through Technologies of germ plasm. it is provided under article 3(5)(b),  where the taking of the birds for the purpose of enhancing the propagation of the survival of the affected species is exempted from the prohibition.

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The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and Wildlife is of contemporary importance,  especially for India,  where its 13th conference of parties held (CMS COP13)  in Gandhinagar  recently on February 22 2020. At  this year Urial, a wild sheep from Central Asia it’s been proposed for the inclusion of it under appendix 2.  Apart from this Gobi Bear and Persian Leopard,  are also considered for their inclusion in the list of regional initiative called Central Asian mammals initiative (CAMI). India became a party to CMS in 1983[4].  As per the ministry of environment forest and climate change,  India is a temporary home for several migratory birds and some other forms of wildlife,  which includes, Amur Falcons, Bar-headed Geese, Black-necked cranes, Marine turtles, Dugongs, Humpbacked Whales.  India is also known for its role under CMS for being  one among the country,  falling apart of Central Asian flyway  which is one among the major bird fly away network covering  many parts of Arctic and Indian Ocean.  India also had launched its Action Plan for conservation of such works under the flyway network. As per the press release of 2019 India has got several Memorandum of understanding which are non legally binding to the said convention for the conservation and management of species such as Siberian cranes and Marine Turtles.  It was then expected for the outcome of negotiated decisions and political initiatives regarding the adding of new species to the listing of CMS,  that include Asian elephants and  Great Indian Bustard.

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India and implementation of CMS;

The fundamental principles of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species is that the range States should take imminent action to the special attention to the migratory species and their conservation status of which is if known unfavourable  and strive to avoid the species becoming endangered.  The parties should also promote ,corporate and support the research related to the migratory species and to Endeavour the immediate protection of those species listed under appendix 1 along with special care of migratory species under appendix 2. The Indian National wildlife Action Plan 2017 to 2031 provides for regulatory measures against illegal poaching and smuggling of birds listed under the said convention[5].  The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 is seen as a monumental step to protect the  species from illegal trade.  India is legally bound to make provisional measures under the CMS as the constitution of India,  article 51(c),  mention that the nation should abide International Treaty obligations Ding its Directive Principles of State Policy.  Article 253 of Indian constitution also provides for the Parliament to enact legislation under International Treaty obligations notwithstanding the constitutional distribution of powers. In the case of Maganbhai Ishwarbhai Patel vs. Union of India[6],  the Supreme Court of India held that once if a Treaty is been ratified by the sovereignty  of the government all the three bodies of the government  obliged to help the implementation of the Treaty under the constitutional framework in good faith.


This convention is seen as the only Global convention for ensuring the environmental protection of birds which are getting endangered by impacts of environmental changes that impede their migration.  As per Article 26 of the Vienna Convention every country has got the duty of fulfilling the obligations which it had ratified through International treaties the principle of which is known as pacta sunt servanda.  The convention on the biological diversity provide for the sustainable  utilisation of Once natural resources subject to the sovereignty of the state to exploit it and trans-boundary concerns. India as one of the major impacting parties to the conservation,  has taken eminent measures to implement the policy promised under the convention.  The convention on the conservation of migratory species is seen as one of the significant International instrument of current global environment importance.

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[1] Art, 15(d) CBD.

[2] UN General Assembly, World Charter for Nature., 28 October 1982, A/RES/37/7, available at:

[3] UN General Assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 999, p. 171, available at:

[4] Om Marathe, Explained What is CMS and How does it matter to India? Indian Express, February 18. 

[5] Art II, CMS.

[6] Maganbhai Ishwarbhai Patel vs. Union of India [1969 SCR (3) 254].

Cite this article (The Bluebook 20th ed.)-

Mukesh M., Protection of Migratory Species, Ex Gratia Law Journal, (December 7, 2020),

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Mukesh M.
Student - GLCPKM, Tamilnadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University