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

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

ISBN 9781138573925
Published October 12, 2017 by Routledge
392 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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 


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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.