Other Proposals to Host the Secretariat; The Debate over Legal Personality

TED-Turtle #2








In addition to Stetson University’s Proposal to host the Secretariat, other members of the Inter-American Convention have also made proposals to host the Secretariat in their countries . In addition to Stetson, there are three other offers. First, the Dutch Netherlands offered to host, being invested through the Caribbean Netherlands. The Caribbean Netherlands encompasses Bonaire (part of the ABC islands), Saba, and Sint Eustatius (the later two part of the SSS islands), all of which are frequently visited by sea turtle species for nesting. Second there is a proposal  from Lima, Peru, with details not yet clarified. Third, there is a last proposal from Guatemala, specifically from ARCAS. ARCAS is a non-profit, non-governmental-organization (NGO), established in 1989. Originally supporting animals rescued from the black market by the Guatemalan government, they now rescue a reported 300 to 600 animals annually, and this government hopes to add sea turtles to their list of protected animals.

As required, these three proposals were submitted ninety days before the delegates’ conference, but unfortunately specific details of these offers are not disclosed to observers so it is difficult to know how comprehensive these offers are until they are discussed in the conference.


In conjunction the proposal offers, the aside central debate will be the legal personality of the Secretariat. The Legal Personality of the Secretariat represents how the Secretariat will be recognized and given standing and in what medium. This ruling will have bearing on where the Secretariat may be held. Prior to this meeting, the convention’s Legal Working Group (consisting of Brazil, Mexico, the U.S. and Peru) established three options for the legal personality of the secretariat:

1.) The Parties could amend the Convention’s text to give the Secretariat formal legal personality through a protocol that would establish the Secretariat in International Law. However, it would again necessitate the ratification of the Convention by all of the Parties’ National Congresses—a lengthy and time consuming process. Peru’s proposal requires that this legal personality be adopted in order for them to host.

2.) The Secretariat could enter into a headquarters agreement, becoming a Permanent Secretariat with a host country or entity (such as Stetson University.) In essence, creating such an arrangement would give the Secretariat legal personality through domestic or national law. Stetson University’s proposal, like the proposals from Guatemala, Peru, and the Netherlands, generally support host option two.

3.) The final option is the Secretariat’s position could continue with the “Status Quo” of being a Secretariat Pro Tempore, meaning the Secretariat would continue to be a temporary and without legal personality.  Presumably, this option would result in the Secretariat remaining in Arlington, Virginia for the foreseeable future.