The littoral states of the Caspian Sea signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (“Tehran Convention”) on 4 November 2003. The Tehran Convention is the main legal document providing a coordinating framework among the riparian states for protecting the Caspian Sea environment, and the first legally binding regional agreement signed by all five littoral states. The Tehran Convention came into force on 12 August 2006, after ratification by all of the signatory states. Negotiations between the Member States concerning the legal status of the Caspian Sea have not been finalized yet. Four protocols are currently under development, and have been assigned priority by the Member States:
- Protocol for the Protection of the Caspian Sea Against Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities;
- Protocol on Regional Preparedness, Response and Co-operation in Combating Oil Pollution Incidents;
- Protocol on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context; and
- Protocol on the Conservation of Biological Diversity.
The Caspian littoral states, all of whom have signed and ratified the Tehran Convention, are: Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan.
The Tehran Convention applies to the “marine environment of the Caspian Sea, taking into account its water level fluctuations, and pollution from land based sources.” Pursuant to the Strategic Action Programme (“SAP”) originally drafted and approved at the Tehran Steering Committee Meeting where the Tehran Convention was adopted, the scope also extends, in addition to the Caspian Sea proper, to “the coastal areas up to 100 km inland.” The SAP further provides that should there be activities that impact the environment of the Caspian Sea beyond this 100 km delineation that require intervention, the identification and prioritization of those activities would also fall within the scope of the Tehran Convention and the SAP.
The Member States have created a governing body, the Conference of the Parties (the “Conference” or “COP”), for the purpose of applying the Tehran Convention and an administrative body, the Secretariat, to assist with that task.
As identified in the Tehran Convention, the functions of the Conference include:
- Reviewing the content and implementation of the Tehran Convention, its protocols and the Action Plan;
- Considering and adopting additional protocols or amendments to the Tehran Convention or its protocols, and adopting and amending the annexes to the Tehran Convention and its protocols;
- Receiving and considering reports submitted by the Member States and reviewing and evaluating the state of the marine environment, in particular the state of pollution and its effects;
- Considering reports prepared by the Secretariat on matters relating to the Tehran Convention;
- Where appropriate, seeking the technical and financial assistance of relevant international bodies and scientific institutions for the purposes of implementing the objectives of the Tehran Convention;
- Establishing such subsidiary bodies as may be necessary for implementing the Tehran Convention and its protocols;
- Appointing the Executive Secretary of the Tehran Convention and other personnel as necessary; and
- Performing such other functions as necessary to achieve the objectives of the Tehran Convention.
The functions of the Secretariat include:
- Arranging for and servicing meetings of the Conference and its subsidiary bodies;
- Preparing and transmitting to the Member States notifications, reports and other relevant information;
- Considering enquiries from the Member States and consulting with them on matters relating to the implementation of the Tehran Convention and its protocols;
- Preparing and transmitting reports on matters relating to the implementation of the Tehran Convention and its protocols;
- Establishing, maintaining the database of and disseminating the national laws of the Member States and the international laws relevant to the protection of the Caspian Sea;
- Arranging, upon the request of any Member State, for the provision of technical assistance and advice for the effective implementation of the Tehran Convention and its protocols;
- Carrying out functions as may be established under the protocols to the Tehran Convention;
- Cooperating, as appropriate, with relevant regional and international organizations and programs; and
- Performing such other functions as may be determined by the Conference.
The Conference is made up of one representative from each Member State. The Tehran Convention directs that the Conference must meet at regular intervals as determined at the initial meeting of the Conference. Meetings of the Conference are held in the territories of the Member States, on the basis of rotation in alphabetical order (in English) or at the location of the Secretariat.
The Tehran Convention also created a Secretariat to assist with administrative tasks and other functions. The Secretariat is headed by an Executive Secretary and also consists of any additional necessary personnel. The Executive Secretary and the other Secretariat personnel are appointed by the Conference.
Prior to the signing of the Tehran Convention, the littoral states of the Caspian Sea had a long-running relationship with the United Nations Development Programme (“UNDP”), the World Bank, and the United Nations Environment Programme (“UNEP”). In 1995, those agencies instituted a Joint Mission to assess the environmental problems of the region, the social and economic impacts of these problems and the commitment of the Caspian coastal countries to cooperate in protecting the environment of the Caspian region, with the assistance of the international community. The Joint Mission recommended strengthening the institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks concerning the Caspian Sea. In addition, as a result of the Joint Mission, the Caspian Environment Programme (“CEP”), with funding from the Global Environment Facility (“GEF”), was launched to serve as a comprehensive strategy for the protection and management of the Caspian environment.
The first phase of the CEP (from 1995 to 2002) focused on developing a regional coordination mechanism for sustainable development and managing the Caspian environment, completing a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis of priority environmental issues, and developing a SAP and adopting National Caspian Action Plans. The second phase of the CEP (from 2003 to 2007) was geared towards implementing the SAP in the areas of Biodiversity, Fisheries, Invasive Species, Coastal Development and Persistent Toxic Substances; further developing the regional coordination mechanisms; strengthening the environmental legal and policy framework (with one of the goals being the entry into force of the Tehran Convention); and implementing small-scale investments, coastal community sustainable development projects and public awareness campaigns. The CEP is still ongoing.
At the second Conference of the Parties in November 2008, the Member States adopted the Strategic Convention Action Programme (“SCAP”) as a comprehensive, long-term agenda and a framework for the implementation of the Tehran Convention and its future protocols over a period of ten years. The SCAP consists largely of an update of the SAP developed under the CEP, adapted to the needs and priorities of the Tehran Convention. The Member States have stated their intentions to implement the SCAP through their National Caspian Action Plans.
Decisions made by the Conference must be unanimous.
Any dispute arising between the Member States regarding the “application or interpretation of the provisions” of the Tehran Convention will be “settle[d] by consultations, negotiations or by any other peaceful means of their own choice.”
The Tehran Convention contains a number of articles dealing specifically with the exchange of information among the Member States, cooperation on environmental policies and harmonization of national laws. The Member States are directed to harmonize their national laws and to work together in order to develop specific rules and standards designed to protect the environment of the Caspian Sea, including to jointly develop an action plan to help implement the objectives of the Tehran Convention. The Member States are called upon to: (a) collect and exchange data concerning the sources of pollution in the Caspian Sea; (b) develop programs to monitor water quality and quantity; (c) develop contingency plans for pollution emergencies; (d) implement emission and discharge limits; (e) establish water quality objectives and criteria; and (f) develop harmonized programs to reduce pollution loads from municipal and industrial points, as well as from diffuse sources. The Member States are also to cooperate on research and development concerning techniques for the prevention, control and reduction of pollution in the Caspian Sea. The information gathered, and any resulting reports, are exchanged among the Member States through the Secretariat. The Member States, in conjunction with the Secretariat, are to endeavor provide public access to this information and to the action plans developed by the Member States.
The Tehran Convention requires that each Member State submits, at regular intervals determined by the Conference, “reports on measures adopted for the implementation of the provisions” of the Tehran Convention.
Additionally, each Member State is required to provide an environmental impact assessment for any potential activity impacting the Caspian. The UNEP and the CEP have developed guidelines for preparing and implementing these environmental impact assessments. The results from each assessment must be disseminated to the other Member States.
The Tehran Convention required the Member States to agree upon and set financial rules at the first meeting of the Conference. At the First Conference of the Parties in May 2007, or COP I, the Conference adopted a set of financial rules establishing a Trust Fund, to be run by a Trustee designated by the Conference, to fund the implementation of the Tehran Convention and the activities of the Secretariat. The Trust Fund will be funded by direct contributions from the Member States on an equal share basis, and allows additional funds to be voluntarily deposited by any individual Member State. The Financial Rules also permit states that are not parties to the Tehran Convention, as well as nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations, to make contributions to the Trust Fund.
Budget proposals are prepared by the Secretariat and submitted to the Conference for approval or revision. The Financial Rules dictate specific time limits on preparing budgets and reporting, as well as specific provisions for terminating or amending the terms of the Trust Fund.
No specific provision.
Each Member State is required to “designate a National Authority to coordinate implementation of the provisions” of the Tehran Convention.
The Tehran Convention requires the Member States to identify pollutants and their parameters that need to be monitored regularly and to carry out assessments of the environmental conditions of the Caspian Sea, as well as of the effectiveness of measures taken to implement the Tehran Convention. The Tehran Convention states that the Member States “shall endeavour to establish and implement individual and/or joint programmes for monitoring environmental conditions of the Caspian Sea.” Each Member State has also prepared and implemented a National Caspian Action Plan, which addresses the commitments made by the Member States under the SAP of the CEP and also partly under the Tehran Convention. Furthermore, National Convention Action Plans are being developed to specifically address the obligations of the Member States under the Tehran Convention. See also Data Information Sharing, Exchange, and Harmonization; Functions.
Additional groups have been involved in the meetings of the Conference. At the Second Conference of Parties, held in November 2008, participants included: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, the World Bank, the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution, and the CaspianMap project of the EU/TACIS (Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States) programme.
No specific provision.
The CEP is a regional umbrella program developed with the help of the international community for the five Caspian littoral states. With an overall goal of environmentally sustainable development and management of the Caspian environment, one of the objectives of the CEP was to establish the SAP. The SAP is a regional policy framework that describes the principles of environmental management and cooperation, acknowledges challenges confronting the sustainable integrated management of the Caspian Sea environment, establishes regionally agreed upon Environmental Quality Objectives, and defines a set of targets, interventions and indicators designed to meet these objectives. The SAP identifies four areas of concern that are in need of national action and regional cooperation: fisheries development, biological diversity protection, pollution monitoring and control, and sustainable development of coastal areas. The SCAP was developed on the basis of the SAP and adopted by the second Conference of the Parties in 2008. See Relationships.
- Tehran Convention Website, available at http://www.tehranconvention.org/.
- Caspian Environment Programme, available at http://www.caspianenvironment.org/newsite/index.htm.
- Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the Caspian Sea – Updated October 2006, available at http://www.caspianenvironment.org/autoindex/index.php?dir=NewSite/DocCenter/MajDoc/Updated%20SAP.
- Caspian Water Quality Monitoring and Action Plan for Areas of Pollution Concern – Regional Pollution Action Plan, Aug. 2009, available at http://caspianmap.org/assets/Uploads/RPAP%202009%2010%2012_eng%20complete%20PDF.pdf.
- Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea – Strategic Convention Action Programme, available at http://www.tehranconvention.org/cop2/Annex%202%20SCAP%20eng.pdf.
- Global Environment Facility – Project Proposal (Caspian Part II), 20 Dec. 1999, available at www.thegef.org/gef/sites/thegef.org/files/repository/Part_II_Caspian.doc.
- UNEP Regional Seas Programme – Caspian Sea, available at http://www.unep.org/regionalseas/programmes/independent/caspian/default.asp.
- Parvin Farschi, UNDP/GEF Caspian Sea Project — by Christian Ledermann — last modified Jun 12, 2014 12:14 AM
- This video clip interview with CASPECO Project Manager, Parvin Farschi talks about the focus of Caspian Sea Project, the countries currently working with the project as well as the challenges it has in terms of governance. The Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea was also mentioned and discussed briefly.
Depending on the project scope the treaty may not be applicable to all projects
- Advancing IWRM Across the Kura River Basin through Implementation of the Transboundary Agreed Actions and National Plans
- Preparation of A Strategic Action Programme (SAP) and Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) for the Tumen River Area, Its Coastal Regions and Related Northeast Asian Environs
- Russian Federation - Support to the National Programme of Action for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment
- Development and Implementation of the Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe Basin Management Programme
- Black Sea Environmental Management
- Joint Actions to Reduce PTS and Nutrients Pollution in Lake Baikal through Integrated Basin Management
- ARCTIC Integrated Adaptive Management of the West Bering Sea Large Marine Ecosystem in a Changing Climate
- Integrated Natural Resource Management in the Baikal Basin Transboundary Ecosystem
- Addressing Transboundary Environmental Issues in the Caspian Environment Programme (CEP)
- Restoration, Protection and Sustainable Use of the Sistan Basin
- Developing the Implementation of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan (BSSAP)
- Preparation of A Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the Dnieper River Basin and Development of SAP Implementation Mechanisms
- Towards a Convention and Action Programme for the Protection of the Caspian Sea Environment (Phase II)
- Enabling Country of the Transboundary Syr Darya Basin to Make Sustainable Use of their Ground Water Potential and Subsurface Space with Consideration to Climate Variability and Change
- Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Water Resources Management in the Chu and Talas River Basins
- Save the Source: Catalyzing Market Transformation of Breweries from a Major Natural Resource Consuming Industry to a Pro-active Steward for Resource Efficient Cleaner Production
- MENARID Institutional Strengthening and Coherence for Integrated Natural Resources Management
- Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Natural Resources Management in the Ural River Basin
- Reduction of Environmental Impact from Tropical Shrimp Trawling Through the Introduction of By-Catch Reduction Technologies and Change of Management
- Removal of Barriers to the Effective Implementation of Ballast Water Control and Management Measures in Developing Countries (GloBallast)
- Control of Eutrophication, Hazardous Substances and Related Measures for Rehabilitating the Black Sea Ecosystem: Phase 1
- Control of Eutrophication, Hazardous Substances and Related Measures for Rehabilitating the Black Sea Ecosystem, Tranche 2
- Persistent Toxic Substances, Food Security, and Indigenous Peoples of the Russian North
- Danube/Black Sea Basin Strategic Partnership on Nutrient Reduction, Phase I
- Promoting Replication of Good Practices for Nutrient Reduction and Joint Collaboration in Central and Eastern Europe
- ARCTIC GEF-Russian Federation Partnership on Sustainable Environmental Management in the Arctic under a Rapidly Changing Climate (Arctic Agenda 2020)
- Reducing Transboundary Degradation in the Kura-Aras Basin
- Baltic Sea Regional Project (BSRP), Phase I
- Black Sea Environmental Management (BSEP)
- The Caspian Sea: Restoring Depleted Fisheries and Consolidation of a Permanent Regional Environmental Governance Framework
- Strategic Partnership for Nutrient Reduction in the Danube River and Black Sea - World Bank-GEF Nutrient Reduction Investment Fund: Tranche 3
- Water and Environmental Management in the Aral Sea Basin