The UN Watercourses Convention in Force: Strengthening International Law for Transboundary Water Management, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The UN Watercourses Convention in Force

Strengthening International Law for Transboundary Water Management, 1st Edition

Edited by Flavia Rocha Loures, Alistair Rieu-Clarke


392 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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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.

Table of Contents

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


About the Editors

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.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Environmental