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International Conventions on Water


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International Conventions on Water. Iulia Trombitcaia. Environmental Affairs Officer, UNECE. International Annual UN-Water Zaragoza Conference 2012/2013
Preparing for the 2013 International Year. Water Cooperation: Making it Happen! 8-10 January 2013

International Conventions on Water

  1. 1. International Conventions on Water Iulia Trombitcaia, UNECE
  2. 2. Two framework multilateral instruments• 1997 Convention on the Law of the Non- navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UN Watercourses Convention, or New York Convention)• 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (UNECE Water Convention, or Helsinki Convention)
  3. 3. 1997 UN Watercourses Convention• Adopted by UN General Assembly in 1997 on the basis of 1994 ILC Draft Articles – 3 decades, all continents• Voted in favor by 106 States• Global framework multilateral agreement• Strongly recognized as evidence of international customary law• Already influenced many agreements (SADC, Albufeira Convention, etc.)
  4. 4. 1997 UN Watercourses Convention• Not yet in force (6 ratifications missing), expected entry into force end of 2013-early 2014• Ratified (29): Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Luxemburg, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Uzbekistan * in blue – also Parties to UNECE Water Convention
  5. 5. 1992 UNECE Water Convention• Negotiated in 1990-1992 through an intergovernmental process under the auspices of UNECE, largely relying on ILC Draft Articles process• Negotiated originally as regional instrument• Signed on 17 March 1992, in force on 6 October 1996• Protocol on Water and Health adopted in 1999, entered into force in 2005• Protocol on Civil Liability adopted in 2003
  6. 6. Status of ratification of the UNECEWater Convention 39 Parties (38 countries and the European Union) Parties Countries in accession Non Parties .
  7. 7. 2003 Amendment to the 1992 UNECE Water Convention• Opening up the Water Convention to all UN Member States => the Convention becomes a global instrument• Aims:- apply the principles and provisions worldwide- share the experiences of the Convention- learn from other regions of the world• Amendments enter into force 6 February 2013• Possibility all UN Member States to accede from late 2013-early 2014 when all 2003 Parties ratify the amendments
  8. 8. 6th Meeting of the Parties to UNECE Water Convention (Rome, November 2012)• Unanimous decision of Parties to grant, once and for all, the approval to all future requests• 18 non-UNECE States participated• Iraq and Tunisia expressed their interest in joining the Water Convention as soon as possible
  9. 9. The two Conventions: compatibility• Two same substantive principles-equitable and reasonable utilization-due diligence obligation of no-harm• Principle of cooperation as catalyst for the implementation of the two substantive ones (specified in the obligations to notify, to consult, to exchange information, to enter into agreements and establish joint bodies, etc.)• Almost same provisions with regard to dispute settlement
  10. 10. The two Conventions: mutual complementarityCountless examples…* Factors to equitable and reasonable utilization(Art.6 of the Watercourses Convention)* Planned measures (Part III of the WatercoursesConvention)* Consequences of occurrence of transboundaryimpact (Art.7(2) of the Watercourses Convention)* Content of specific agreements and tasks of jointbodies (Art. 9 of the Water Convention)* Water quality objectives and criteria and BAT(annexes of the Water Convention)* Information subject to exchange, and “jointassessments” (Art. 13 and 11 of the WaterConvention)…
  11. 11. The two Conventions: what differences?• Few differences (confined groundwater not covered by Watercourses Convention; intellectual property limitation to exchange of information in UNECE Water Convention; obligation to adapt existing agreements to basic provisions in UNECE Water Convention)• One major difference:-Mandatory character of institutional cooperation between Riparian Parties in the UNECE Water Convention (recommendation in Watercourses Convention)-Institutional mechanism based on the Meeting of the Parties in the UNECE Water Convention (no such mechanism in Watercourses Convention)
  12. 12. 1992 Water Convention institutional mechanism• Meeting of the Parties• Bureau• Working Group on Monitoring and Assessment• Working Group on Integrated Water Resources Management• Task Force on Water and Climate• Legal Board• Implementation Committee• Joint ad-hoc Expert Group on Water and Industrial Accidents• International Water Assessment Center (IWAC)• Supported by UNECE secretariat3-year work programmes: Protocols, guidelines, assessments, projects on the ground …
  13. 13. The two Conventions: the principle of harmonization“Fragmentation of International Law: DifficultiesArising from the Diversification and Expansion ofInternational Law”, Report of the Study Group ofthe International Law Commission, 2006: “The principle of harmonization. It is a generallyaccepted principle that when several norms bear on asingle issue they should, to the extent possible, beinterpreted so as to give rise to a single set ofcompatible obligations”.Guide to Implementing the Water Convention, 2009:interpreting many of its provisions in light of theWatercourses Convention and the ILC Commentary
  14. 14. How will the two work together?Open and constructive discussion…•World Water Forum in Marseille (March 2012),Symposium in Dundee (June 2012), Rio +20(June 2012), Meeting of the Parties to WaterConvention (Rome, 2012)•Upcoming debate on the “water” SDG•New work programme of Water Conventionfor 2013-2015:-building synergies with NY Convention-role of the new Implementation Committee It is up to the Parties to decide.
  15. 15. Message by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the Meeting of the Parties to Water Convention (Rome, November 2012)“Soon the Convention on the Protectionand Use of Transboundary Watercoursesand International Lakes will becomeopen for accession to all MemberStates. Your experience and the lessonsyou have learned will be invaluable. Iencourage countries outside theUNECE region to join the Conventionand contribute to its furtherdevelopment.”
  16. 16. Message by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the Meeting of the Parties to Water Convention (Rome, November 2012)“The globalization of the [Water]Convention should also go hand-in-handwith the expected entry into force of theUnited Nations Watercourses Convention.These two instruments are based on thesame principles. They complement eachother and should be implemented in acoherent manner.”
  17. 17. Intergovernmental bilateral Dniester BasinTreaty of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine (Rome, 29 November 2012) – taking the best of the two Conventions
  18. 18. Thank you! UN Watercourses Convention/ILC: UNECE Water Convention: WWF campaign: /policy/conventions/water_conventions/ Contact: Iulia Trombitcaia Environmental Affairs Officer, UNECE