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Terms of Reference

I. Introduction

Themis is an informal regional network of national authorities responsible for natural resources management and protection, and for the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, in particular nature conservation in the EU candidate countries, potential candidates and countries with EU Association Agreements: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia. Croatia is a member of the network as an observer and provides expertise and experience in relation to the EU accession process.

The network operates within the framework of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE), the global informal network for practitioners dedicated to raising awareness, developing networks and strengthening capacities. It also works in partnership with related networks and other major international players in the field of law enforcement.  

II. Background

Resources are the backbone of every economy. The sustainable use of natural resources is essential for good quality of life and for ensuring that future generations have access to their fair share of increasingly scarce resources. Inappropriate resource use may lead to serious damage that exceeds the carrying capacity of the environment. Natural resources management is a crucial element in the concept of sustainable development and in the protection of natural resources such as forests, land, water, soil, plants and animals, and especially Natura 2000 sites, special areas of conservation (SACs) established under the Habitats Directive, and special protection areas (SPAs) established under the Birds Directive.

III. Mission statement

The mssion of the Themis Network is to protect the environment through the more effective implementation and enforcement of natural resources legislation and the combating of environmental crimes. It encourages a common approach and understanding in identifying solutions among its member countries.

IV. Objectives

The overall objective is to improve the ability of network members to implement and enforce natural resources and forestry legislation and combat environmental crimes. In particular, the Themis Network seeks to:

V. Network structure

The structure and management of the network draw on the experience of the REC and INECE in managing regional cooperation programmes and similar law enforcement networks. The network's governance structure comprises the Advisory Council, the Executive Committee and operational focal points, supported by the REC as secretariat.

1. Advisory Council

The Advisory Council is an informal, ad hoc expert group that aims to provide support and guidance to the network. The Advisory Council is made up of representatives of the REC and partner organisations. Its main tasks are to:

The secretariat facilitates coordination and communication between the Advisory Council and the Executive Committee.

2. Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is a forum for strategic discussions and decision making, subject to the objectives and activities of the network. The Executive Committee comprises the operational focal points of member countries and other key stakeholders involved in the network’s activities. The Executive Committee also reviews, approves, amends and adopts the MAP and evaluates results and outputs.

The Executive Committee works by consensus. In the event that a country is unable to send a representative to a plenary meeting where strategic decisions require a consensus, that country may express its agreement or disagreement with the strategic decision in writing. Any agreement or disagreement in writing must be made available to the other network members in order to ensure transparency in decision making.

When non-strategic decisions need to be made outside plenary meetings, the secretariat may issue a written request for approval to all member countries. The member countries must then communicate their opinion via their operational focal points within 15 working days. If member countries fail to express an opinion on the circulated proposal/document by the deadline, the proposal/document is considered to have been accepted. The secretariat shall inform the members of the outcome of the procedure.


Executive Committee meetings are co-chaired by the REC and the country hosting the Executive Committee meeting.


Executive Committee meetings should take place once a year. National focal points, in agreement with the secretariat, may decide to have an ad hoc preparatory meeting prior to the Executive Committee meeting. The Executive Committee decides on the location and date of the following meeting.


Meetings are held in English and meeting materials are prepared in English.

3. Operational focal points

The operational focal points are senior officials involved in the development, implementation and enforcement of natural resources legislation. They represent the network member countries and make decisions on behalf of the member countries in relation to network activities.

Each focal point must designate one or more deputies from institutions relevant to network activities. Each member country's operational focal point serves as a contact person for all national-level stakeholders interested in the network’s activities and outcomes. Focal points are encouraged to share their experience and information about the network’s activities with all interested stakeholders. They are also requested to provide information and support to the secretariat for the benefit of the network and for the successful implementation of the MAP.

4. Secretariat

Network member countries mandate the REC to host the secretariat and empower the REC to perform the following tasks:

VII. Multi-annual Work Programme (MAP)

The MAP contains structured activities that correspond to network objectives and positions them within a timeframe. The MAP is based on the priorities of member countries in terms of the implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation and the combating of environmental crimes. As new priorities arise or existing priorities change, member countries may modify the MAP in the framework of the Executive Committee meeting or via a written procedure.  The draft MAP is prepared by the secretariat in cooperation with the operational focal points.

VIII. Reporting

Secretariat reports

In order to assess whether activities are contributing to the meeting of network objectives, and to monitor their efficiency and impacts, reports are prepared by the secretariat on all network activities. Draft reports are circulated for comments before adoption by the Executive Committee.

The secretariat disseminates the evaluation reports to interested stakeholders and partner institutions and networks. The reports are also made available for downloading from the network’s website.

IX. Network identity and visibility

The name of the network is Themis – Managing Natural Resources and Combating Environmental Crime; or simply the Themis Network.

Themis logo

Themis was the Greek embodiment of law and order. The network logo suggests the contemporary need for law enforcement in the field of the environment through the use of a modern font with a classical Greek allusion. The stone-coloured pillar, in contrast to the earthy tone of the other lettering, is suggestive of the solid establishment of justice and law. These concepts are then linked visually, by colour and position, to the network that will promote, underline and enforce them.

Materials produced by the Themis Network must feature the Themis logo and, in all cases, the logo of the REC as network secretariat and the logo of the donor. Logos of beneficiary institutions and cooperation partners may also be included, where appropriate.

The secretariat is responsible for communicating Themis activities and disseminating outputs with the support of the focal points in each country.