The UN Watercourses Convention: Regional and Basin Perspectives

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The UN Watercourses Convention: Regional and Basin Perspectives, by Dr. Alistair Rieu-Clarke, IHP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science under the auspices of UNESCO, University of Dundee, Scotland.

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The UN Watercourses Convention: Regional and Basin Perspectives

  1. 1. The UN Watercourses Convention: Regional and Basin Perspectives<br />XIV World Water Congress<br />25-29th September 2011<br />Porto de Galinhas, Brazil<br />Dr Alistair Rieu-Clarke<br />22nd August 2011<br />
  2. 2. Regional and Basin Assessments<br />Europe<br />Central America<br />Aral Sea<br />West Africa<br />East Africa<br />Congo<br />South-east Asia<br />Southern Africa<br />South America<br />
  3. 3. West Africa<br />East Africa<br />Congo<br />Southern Africa<br />
  4. 4. Aral Sea<br />SE Asia<br />
  5. 5.
  6. 6.
  7. 7. Aims and objectives<br />
  8. 8. UN General Assembly Resolution 2669(XXV), 8th December 1970<br />Comments and observations received from governments, UN Doc. A/CN.4/447 and Add. 1-3, 1993<br />
  9. 9. 62 of the world’s 263 international river basins have established river basin organisations in place. <br />Dombrovsky, I., ‘Integration in the Management of International Waters: Economic Perspectives on a Global Policy Discourse’, 14(4) Global Governance 455-477 (2008)<br />“An examination of these agreements reveals that the majority cover multilateral basins (shared by three or more states), even though 67% of the world’s 263 international rivers are bilateral (shared by two states)(Wolf 1998). To govern multilateral basins, states have tended to select bilateral treaties rather than multilateral treaties (Song and Whittington 2004). Consequently, the conventional wisdom that has evolved is that negotiations are more likely to take place over multilateral rather than bilateral basins and that the byproduct of these talks is more likely to be bilateral rather than multilateral treaties (Conca et al. 2006)” <br />Zawahri, N. & Mitchell, S. ‘Fragmented Governance of International Rivers: Negotiating Bilateral versus Multilateral Treaties’, 55 International Studies Quarterly 835-858 (2011)<br />“Existing agreements are sometimes not sufficiently effective to promote integrated water resources management due to problems at the national and local levels such as inadequate water management structures and weak capacity in countries to implement the agreements as well as shortcomings in the agreements themselves (for example, inadequate integration of aspects such as the environment, the lack of enforcement mechanisms, limited – sectoral – scope and non-inclusion of important riparian States)” <br />(UN-Water, Transboundary Waters: Sharing Benefits, Sharing Responsibilities, Thematic Paper, 2008)<br />
  10. 10. A global framework convention<br />3 key areas where a framework agreement might be of benefit, namely where, <br /><ul><li>no governing regime for transboundary waters exists
  11. 11. not all basin states are parties to an existing agreement, and
  12. 12. an agreement only partially covers matters addressed by the rules </li></li></ul><li>East, West and Southern Africa<br />
  13. 13. No basin-wide agreement<br /><ul><li>East Africa
  14. 14. Nile
  15. 15. Southern Africa
  16. 16. Buzi
  17. 17. Pangani
  18. 18. Save
  19. 19. Umbeluzi
  20. 20. Zambezi</li></li></ul><li>Not all basin states party to an agreement<br /><ul><li>East Africa
  21. 21. Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement – not yet in force
  22. 22. Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda have signed, will Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan?
  23. 23. Southern Africa
  24. 24. Zambezi Agreement – not yet in force
  25. 25. Botswana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola have ratified, will Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe?</li></li></ul><li>An agreement only partially covers matters addressed by the rule<br /><ul><li>East Africa
  26. 26. Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement (NCFA)
  27. 27. Scope: more specific Nile River Basin & System
  28. 28. Substantive: both support ERU (water security?)
  29. 29. Procedural: more explicit reference to EIAs; less detailed on notification
  30. 30. Dispute settlement: similar approach
  31. 31. West Africa
  32. 32. 1987 Revised Convention Pertaining to the Creation of the Niger Basin Authority
  33. 33. Substantive: no reference to ERU or no significant harm
  34. 34. Procedural: lacks detailed procedures
  35. 35. Dispute settlement: no third party fact-finding</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>West Africa ctd
  36. 36. 1972 Statute and 2002 Water Charter of the Senegal River
  37. 37. Scope: connected aquifers not included in definition of river
  38. 38. Substantive: no reference to ERU or no significant harm
  39. 39. Procedural: lacks detailed procedures
  40. 40. Dispute settlement: no 3rd party fact-finding
  41. 41. 1978 Convention and the Gambia River
  42. 42. Scope: connected groundwater not included
  43. 43. Substantive: lacks detail
  44. 44. Procedural: lacks detail on notification process
  45. 45. Dispute settlement: no 3rd party fact-finding
  46. 46. 1964 Convention and Statutes relating to the Development of the Chad Basin
  47. 47. Substantive: no detailed provisions
  48. 48. Procedural: lacks detail on notification process
  49. 49. 2007 Convention on the Statute of the Volta River
  50. 50. Substantive: lacks detail
  51. 51. Procedural: lacks detail on notification
  52. 52. Dispute settlement: no 3rd party fact-finding
  53. 53. Protocol on the Management of the Kolib-Korubal Agreement
  54. 54. Lacks details norms on scope, substantive, procedural and dispute settlement mechanisms</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Southern Africa
  55. 55. Revised SADC Protocol
  56. 56. Lacks clarity on the relationship between equitable reasonable utilisation and no harm
  57. 57. No specific of ‘vital human needs’ in SADC protocol</li></li></ul><li>Aral Sea and SE Asia<br />
  58. 58. No basin-wide agreement<br /><ul><li>SE Asia
  59. 59. Red/ Hong/ Yuan Jiang (China, Laos and Vietnam
  60. 60. Irrawaddy or Dulong (China, Myanmar and India)
  61. 61. Salween or Nu (China, Myanmar and Thailand)
  62. 62. Saigon (Cambodia and Vietnam)
  63. 63. Song Vam Co Dong (Cambodia and Vietnam)
  64. 64. Pakchan (Thailand and Myanmar)
  65. 65. BeiJianh or His (China and Vietnam)
  66. 66. Ma (Laos and Vietnam)
  67. 67. Ca or Song Koi (Laos and Vietnam)
  68. 68. Golok (Thailand and Malysia)</li></ul>Aral Sea<br />SE Asia<br />
  69. 69. An agreement only partially covers matters addressed by the UNWC<br /><ul><li>Aral Sea
  70. 70. Scope: Do not encompass ‘ecosystem’ concept
  71. 71. Substantive: no explicit provisions on ERU; UNWC more clarity as to relationship between ERU and no significant harm; strengthen obligation to protect aquatic ecosystems
  72. 72. Procedural: UNWC more detailed/ stringent procedures (notification, consultation, exchange of info)
  73. 73. Dispute settlement: UNWC provides more detail
  74. 74. Mekong Agreement
  75. 75. Substantive: UNWC provides more detail on ERU factors (Art.6).
  76. 76. Procedural: Notification no detailed binding commitments
  77. 77. Dispute settlement: submission to ICJ or arbitration not directly provided for in MA. </li></li></ul><li>Europe<br />
  78. 78. No basin-wide agreement<br /><ul><li>1992 UN ECE Helsinki Convention
  79. 79. Obligation to establish joint arrangements
  80. 80. 2000 EC Water Framework Directive
  81. 81. Requirement to establish river basin districts</li></ul>An agreement only partially covers matters addressed by the UNWC<br /><ul><li>Both 1992 UN ECE Helsinki Convention and 2000 EC Water Framework Directive provide stricter requirements than the UNWC</li></li></ul><li>Perspectives on the role and relevance of the 97 UNWC<br />
  82. 82. Perspectives on the UNWC<br />Need to address international watercourses at a global level<br />‘may seem small but is no less symbolic, for global water governance’ French government upon accession, 2010<br />Burkino Faso, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Greece, etc.<br />Awareness of the UNWC is lacking<br />‘Deeper awareness … about the convention’s content or its applicability to the region’s international watercourses is remarkably low’ West Africa Regional Assessment, 2008<br />Must examine implications of UNWC rules and develop shared understanding amongst key stakeholders (governmental and non-governmental) at the basin level<br />‘All respondents agreed that the key stakeholders need to know more about relevance of the 1997 UNWC. The United Nations Secretariat as depositor of the Convention and other promoter organizations and individuals need to strengthen their campaign to raise awareness among all relevant stakeholders and use their UN system and networks to encourage member countries to ratify or accede to this 1997 UNWC’ SE Regional Assessment, 2011. <br />
  83. 83. Authors<br />
  84. 84. Dr Alistair Rieu-Clarke (<br />MsFlaviaLoures<br />(<br /><br /><br /> “Watercourses Convention”<br />
  85. 85. THANK YOU! <br />