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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.
The UN Watercourses Convention: Regional and Basin Perspectives
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 />
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 />
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 />
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
not all basin states are parties to an existing agreement, and
an agreement only partially covers matters addressed by the rules </li></li></ul><li>East, West and Southern Africa<br />
No basin-wide agreement<br /><ul><li>East Africa
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
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 />
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 />