New IUCN study on the UN Watercourses Convention and the Mekong Agreement

The IUCN BRIDGE programme has recently published report entitled,  “A window of opportunity for the Mekong Basin: The UN Watercourses Convention as a basis for cooperation”.  The paper provides a legal analysis of how the UN Watercourses Convention (UNWC) complements the Mekong Agreement, and provides a comparative analysis of the key substantive and procedural principles and obligations provided  for in the two treaties.

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The result is a finding of overall general legal compatibility between the UNWC and the Mekong Agreement. Moreover, where gaps and inconsistencies between these instruments exist, the UNWC addresses them.

The results of the analysis point clearly to the benefits of ratification of the UNWC by all the Lower Mekong Basin states and members of the MRC. It further recommends that the UNWC would reinforce rather than replace the Mekong Agreement and the MRC, as well as strengthening its broader normative impact as the most important legal instrument for the governance of trans-boundary watercourses globally.

To download the report click here

Recently Published Book by Brill: UNECE Convention on Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and Lakes – Its Contribution to International Water Cooperation

This collected work edited by Attila Tanzi, University of Bologna; Owen McIntyre, University College Cork, Alexandros Kolliopoulos, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Alistair Rieu-Clarke, Dundee Centre for Water Law,Policy & Science (under auspices of UNESCO), and Rémy Kinna, Oxfam Australia was published in May 2014.

The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes provides invaluable insights into the contribution of this international agreement towards transboundary water cooperation via its legal provisions, accompanying institutional arrangements and subsidiary policy mechanisms.

Contributing authors – experts on key aspects of the Convention – address a broad range of issues, primarily concerning its: development and evolution; relationship with other multi-lateral agreements; regulatory framework and general principles; tools for arresting transboundary pollution; procedural rules; compliance and liability provisions; and select issues including its Protocol on Water and Health.

For further information visit the Brill website

Just published: Bjørn-Oliver Magsig, International Water Law and the Quest for Common Security

The world’s freshwater supplies are increasingly threatened by rapidly increasing demand and the impacts of global climate change, but current approaches to transboundary water management are unsustainable and may threaten future global stability and international security. The absence of law in attempts to addre

ss this issue highlights the necessity for further understanding from the legal perspective.

This book provides a fresh conceptualisation of water security, developing an operational methodology for identifying the four core elements of waters

ecurity which must be addressed by international law: availability; access; adaptability; and ambit. The analysis of the legal framework of transboundary freshwater management based on this contemporary understanding of water security reveals the challenges and shortcomings of the current legal regime. In order to address these shortcomings, the present mindset of prevailing rigidity and state-centrism is chal


lenged by examining how international legal instruments could be crafted to advance a more flexible

and common approach toward

s transboundary water interaction.

The concept of considering water security as a matter of ‘regional common concern’ is introduced to help international law play a more prominent role in addressing the challenges of global water insecurity. Ways for implementing such an approach are proposed and analysed by looking at international hydropolitics in Himalayan Asia. The book analyses transboundary water interaction as a ‘case study’ for advancing public international law in order to fulfil its responsibility of promoting international peace and security.


For more information click here

Brill Research Perspectives, International Water Law


A number of researchers and authors face the dilemma of publishing a research outcome that is deemed too long for journal articles and too short for a book. Indeed, most journals impose a limit on the number of words for an article. This limit has been consistently low, ranging from 6,000 to 8,000 words. On the other hand, most reputable book publishers would not consider for publication any manuscript that is less than 100,000 words. This leaves a large area of research product that fits neither the journal’s rules nor the book publishers’ requirements and that is out of reach of readers, which hinders dissemination of the results of such research.

To fill this critical gap, Brill has decided to start a series of journals specifically designed for this kind of research output, Brill Research Perspectives (BRP).

One of the journals under the Series, Brill Research Perspectives, International Water Law, is dedicated entirely, as its title suggests, to international water law. It is intended to be a hybrid journal and reference publication that combines the verification of peer review of journals, the high usage of reference works, and the pedagogy of textbooks. The Journal will be published in four issues per year, each of which comprises a uniquely focused, single monograph of 20,000 to 40,000 words (50 to 100 pages) that provides a comprehensive survey and critical analysis of and commentary on the state of scholarship for a given topic and includes an executive summary and a comprehensive bibliography. The Journal is intended for international water law professors, researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and practitioners.

Issues can be updated periodically by authors to revitalize commentary and to ensure currency of information, analysis, and citations. Each issue is assigned both a DOI and an ISBN, and both online and print (paperback) subscriptions will be available; single issues will also be available for purchase.

The Editorial Board of the Journal consists of Dr. Salman M. A. Salman, as the Editor-in-Chief, and Professor Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Professor Gabriel Eckstein, Professor Makane Mbengue, Dr. Lilian del Castillo-Laborde, Dr. Alistair Rieu–Clarke, and Dr. Kishor Uprety as Associate Editors. More information on the Journal can be found here.

The target publication date of the first issue of the Journal is early 2016. Manuscripts on all issues related to international water law, particularly regional developments and thematic matters, are welcome. Submissions should be sent to or to Jason Prevost at

United Nations Watercourses Convention Enters into Force

United Nations Watercourses Convention Enters Into Force

Landmark global framework on fresh water to improve water security, conflict resolution and cooperation across borders

August 17, 2014—Today the United Nations Watercourses Convention, the first global framework on fresh water and the world’s only global framework for transboundary cooperation endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, officially enters into force.


“Our Board has been promoting the Convention because effective transboundary water management furthers peace and promotes cooperation, and is a fundamental element of sustainable development,” said Ms. Uschi Eid, Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation.  “It is high time to have it ratified, and I am satisfied it is going into force now, as we enter a new era of international cooperation defined by the post-2015 development agenda.”


Currently, there are 276 transboundary freshwater lake and river basins worldwide, but only 40% are governed by agreements. Where agreements exist, 80% involve only two countries, even though other states may also be part of the watercourse in question. The Convention will standardize one set of criteria for which all countries with international river basins and transboundary waters abide, ensuring more practical management globally. These criteria include defining the subjects that countries should discuss on their shared waters, facilitating the process of transboundary cooperation and holding governments accountable to their own countries and regions.


“We have found that we cannot achieve the same level of conservation goals in regions where countries are not cooperating on transboundary water management,” said Lifeng Li, Director of WWF’s global freshwater program. “Nature and wildlife do not respect national borders, and some of the most crucial areas for biodiversity are linked to international rivers and lakes. The UN Watercourses Convention will play an important role in creating a world in which people live in harmony with nature.”


Throughout decades of drafts and revisions, international organizations—particularly those focused on conservation—raised awareness, increased understanding and encouraged adoption of the UN Watercourses Convention. In May 2014, Vietnam became the 35th country to ratify, bringing the Convention into force, and several other countries are on the verge of acceding.


With a growing population and a resurgence in large-scale hydropower projects, the need for comprehensive and effective arrangements for the equitable and sustainable management of transboundary waters is more vital than ever.


“The Convention’s entry into force provides important impetus to further foster much needed cooperation over transboundary waters at the global to local levels,” said Dr Alistair Rieu-Clarke from the University of Dundee Centre for Water Law, Policy & Science.


Marie-Laure Vercambre, Director of Green Cross International’s Water for Life and Peace Programme, emphasized the importance of the Convention, saying “Not only will the governance of the largest and best known watercourses be enhanced by the UN Watercourses Convention, but all transboundary basins of a country’s territory will benefit from it, providing a harmonized legal coverage to all those watercourses whom we know will be more and more exploited/utilized/developed”


“This is just the beginning. Even as we eagerly move toward the next phase of planning implementation, we encourage other nations to accede to the UN Water Courses convention, thus demonstrating international support and recognition for the importance of adequate, joint management of fresh water,” Vercambre added.


For more information about the UNWC, visit or


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About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.  WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit for latest news and media resources.


About University of Dundee Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science

The Centre was established in 2006 as the first UNESCO ‘category II’ centre in the UK. Its aim is to find news ways of effectively integrating law, policy and science to address water challenges of the 21st century. The centre seeks to achieve this aim through a wide breadth of research, consultancy, and training activities across the world. For further information, please visit


About Green Cross International:
GCI was founded in 1993 by Nobel Peace Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev and is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization advocating and working globally to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and has a network of national organizations in 27 countries conducting several local on-the-ground projects in many regions of the world. For further information, please visit:



David Hirsch, WWF


Dr Alistair Rieu-Clarke, Centre for Water Law, Policy & Science

+44 1382 386471


Marie-Laure Vercambre, Green Cross International

+33 6 80 04 04 81

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