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GWP Examines Role of International Law in Transboundary Water Cooperation

GWP Global logotype30 August 2013: The Global Water Partnership (GWP) has published a policy brief, titled 'International Law: Facilitating Transboundary Water Cooperation.' The brief highlights that even in the absence of transboundary water treaties, customary international law ensures States' right to the equitable and reasonable use of transboundary waters, tempered by the obligation not to cause significant harm.

The brief includes sections on the global challenge, the treaty framework, the core elements and policy recommendations. The brief recommends: supporting national capacity in transboundary water resources management; continuing and reinvigorating support for the UN's work in the field of transboundary water issues, including supporting the entry into force of the 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UNWC) and the globalization of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (UNECE Water Convention); and renewing global focus on the duty to cooperate.

The brief's key messages include: that transboundary water treaties should address core elements such as scope, substantive rules, procedural rules, institutional mechanisms and dispute settlement; that effective cooperation is more likely when institutional mechanisms, such as river basin organizations (RBOs) or commissions, are established, supported and fully functional; and that the central tenant of international law of transboundary water resources is the duty to cooperate.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) founded the GWP in 1996 to promote IWRM. [GWP Press Release] [Publication: International Law: Facilitating Transboundary Water Cooperation]