AEWA – African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement – is an international treaty for the conservation of migratory waterbirds developed under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). Amongst others, AEWA provides a framework for the development and implementation of the International Single Species Action Plan for the conservation of the Sociable Lapwing.

The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) is the largest of its kind developed so far under CMS. It was concluded on 16 June 1995 in the Hague, the Netherlands and entered into force on 1 November 1999. The Agreement is an independent international treaty with a small Secretariat provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) situated in Bonn, Germany.

Amongst other obligations, Parties to the Agreement are called upon to adopt so called International Single Species Action Plans (SSAPs) for species of particular concern (i.e. species/populations with an unfavourable conservation status). These Action Plans, or SSAPs, cover all Range States relevant for the species in an effort to ensure a coordinated conservation approach along the entire flyway.

The initial AEWA Sociable Lapwing SSAP was approved in 2002 by the 2nd Meeting of the Parties to AEWA. After several years of intensive work, particularly on the breeding grounds, a wealth of new information was gathered that improved our understanding of the causes of decline and the species conservation needs. A workshop to revise the AEWA Sociable Lapwing SSAP took place on 30 March – 1 April 2009 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This workshop was also the closing event for a 3-year project on the species led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, BirdLife in the UK) and financed by the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative.

The workshop recognised hunting in the Middle East as the primary threat to the species requiring immediate action.  Shooting of Sociable Lapwings in Syria was documented by BirdLife International a few years ago.

The hunting in Syria was examined in the framework of the AEWA Implementation Review Process (IRP). An IRP advisory mission visited Syria in February 2010 and submitted a report to the AEWA Standing Committee containing a set of recommendations to the Government of Syria.

In 2010 the AEWA Secretariat convened the AEWA Sociable Lapwing International Working Group (SLIWG) which held its first meeting on 18-20 March 2011 in Palmyra, Syria. The SLIWG, comprising representatives of governments and expert circles from the principal range states of the species, discussed and decided on the Group’s Terms of Reference, reporting practices, logo and communication media (web site and intranet – soon to be launched). The SLIWG will be chaired by Saudi Arabia till the next Group’s meeting. Importantly, SLIWG decided on the highest implementation priorities in each individual range state and internationally, including a common monitoring scheme.