1st Edition

The UN Watercourses Convention in Force Strengthening International Law for Transboundary Water Management

Edited By Flavia Rocha Loures, Alistair Rieu-Clarke Copyright 2013
    392 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    392 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    At the UN General Assembly in 1997, an overwhelming majority of States voted for the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses – a global overarching framework governing the rights and duties of States sharing freshwater systems.  Globally, there are 263 internationally shared watersheds, which drain the territories of 145 countries and represent more than forty percent of the Earth's land surface. Hence, inter-State cooperation towards the sustainable management of transboundary water supplies, in accordance with applicable international legal instruments, is a topic of crucial importance, especially in the context of the current global water crisis. 

    This volume provides an assessment of the role and relevance of the UN Watercourses Convention and describes and evaluates its entry into force as a key component of transboundary water governance. To date, the Convention still requires further contracting States before it can enter into force. The authors describe the drafting and negotiation of the Convention and its relationship to other multilateral environmental agreements. A series of case studies assess the role of the Convention at various levels: regional (European Union, East Africa, West Africa, Central Asia, Central America and South America), river basin (e.g. the Mekong and Congo) and national (e.g. Ethiopia and Mexico).  The book concludes by proposing how future implementation might further strengthen international cooperation in the management of water resources, to promote biodiversity conservation as well as sustainable and equitable use.

    Part 1: Background and Evolution 

    1. Introduction 

    Alistair Rieu-Clarke & Flavia Rocha Loures 

    2. The progressive development of international water law 

    Stephen C. McCaffrey   

    3. Possible Reasons Slowing Down the Ratification Process 

    Flavia Rocha Loures, Joseph W. Dellapenna, Alistair Rieu-Clarke

    4. Misconceptions Regarding the UN Watercourse Convention’s Interpretation 

    Salman MA Salman 

    5. Why Have States Joined the UN Watercourses Convention?

    Alistair Rieu-Clarke & Alexander López

    Part 2: Entry into Force and Widespread Endorsement: Potential Effects on International Law and State Practice

    6. The Authority and Function of the UN Watercourses Convention 

    Flavia Rocha Loures, Alistair Rieu-Clarke & Johan Lammers 

    7. Impacts on the International Architecture for Transboundary Waters 

    Alistair Rieu-Clarke & Guy Pegram 

    8. Factors that Could Limit the Effectiveness of the UN Watercourses Convention upon Entry into Force 

    Alistair Rieu-Clarke & Alexander López 

    Part 3: The potential role and relevance of the UN Watercourses Convention in specific regions, basins and countries 

    9. West Africa  

    Amidou Garane & Teslim Abul-Kareem   

    10. Southern Africa  

    Daniel Malzbender & Anton Earle 

    11. Central America 

    Alexander López & Ricardo Sancho  

    12. Nile River Basin 

    Musa Mohammed Abseno 

    13. Aral Sea Basin 

    Dinara Ziganshina 

    14. Amazon Basin 

    Joshua Newton 

    15. Mekong Basin 

    Bennett Bearden, Alistair Rieu-Clarke, Sokhem Pech 

    16. Ethiopia 

    Musa Mohammed Abseno  

    17. El Salvador 

    Alexander López & Meg Patterson 

    Part 4: The UN Watercourses Convention, MEAs and International Water and Environmental Policy Goals 

    18. Convention on Climate Change 

    Flavia Rocha Loures, Christian Behrmann, Ashok Swan 

    19. Convention to Combat Desertification 

    Christian Behrmann, Ashok Swain, Flavia Rocha Loures  

    20. UNECE Water Convention 

    Attila Tanzi 

    21. International Development and Environmental Goals 

    Nicole Kranz, Lesha Witmer & Uschi Eid 

    Part 5: Beyond Entry into Force: Strengthening the Role and Relevance of the UN Watercourses Convention 

    22. An Institutional Structure to Support the Implementation Process 

    Flavia Rocha Loures & Alistair Rieu-Clarke 

    23. Filling Gaps: A Protocol to Govern Groundwater Resources of Relevance to International Law 

    Flavia Rocha Loures & Joseph W. Dellapenna 

    24. Reconciling the UN Watercourses Convention with Recent Developments in Customary International Law 

    Owen McIntyre & Mara Tignino 

    Part 6: Emerging Challenges and Future Trends 

    25. Governing International Watercourses in an Era of Climate Change 

    Jamie Pittock & Flavia Rocha Loures   

    26. Benefit Sharing in the UN Watercourses Convention and under International Water Law 

    Patricia Wouters & Ruby Moynihan 

    27. Water Security – Legal Frameworks and the UN Watercourses Convention 

    Patricia Wouters & Ruby Moynihan 

    28. Transboundary Water Interactions and the UN Watercourses Convention: Allocating Waters and Implementing Principles 

    Naho Mirumachi, Mark Zeitoun & Jeroen Warner 



    Flavia Rocha Loures is a Senior Program Officer, International Law and Policy, in the Freshwater Program of WWF, based in Washington, DC. 

    Alistair Rieu-Clarke is a Reader in the Centre for Water Law, Policy & Science (under the auspices of UNESCO) at the University of Dundee, UK.