New book explores the role and relevance of the UN Watercourses Convention

‘The UN Watercourses Convention in Force’, a joint publication by the Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science (CWLPS) and WWF, seeks to determine what difference the entry into force of the UNWC would  make to transnational water governance.

With only a handful of countries needed before the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UNWC) enters into force, WWF and CWLPS present new research that seeks to better understand this global framework instrument’s global relevance.

The joint WWF-CWLPS edited collection, “The UN Watercourses Convention in Force: Strengthening international law for transboundary water management,” published by Earthscan, offers a unique collection of viewpoints that brings together the work of over 30 world-renowned experts in the multidisciplinary field of transboundary water management. The contributions describe the content, drafting and negotiation of the UNWC; the value of its entry into force; its relationship to other multilateral environmental agreements; and, through a series of case studies, the specific role of the convention at various levels across Latin America, Africa and Asia. The book concludes by suggesting how the UNWC’s future implementation might further strengthen international cooperation in the management, UNWC in Force [Cover]use and protection of shared water resources and their ecosystems.

The book draws together in one accessible collection a decade of work led by WWF, along with numerous partners, to deepen knowledge and understanding of the relevance of UNWC, and to raise awareness of this global instrument amongst key stakeholders.

Globally, there are 276 internationally shared watersheds, which drain the territories of 145 countries and represent more than 40 per cent of the Earth’s land surface. The UNWC is a global framework governing the rights and duties of states sharing freshwater systems. It is designed to foster interstate cooperation on the sustainable management of transboundary waters in accordance with international law. To date, the convention counts 30 contracting states – only five short of the number required for entry into force, which now looks imminent.

“We hope this volume advances knowledge of international law in general and the UNWC in particular, as crucial tools for enabling the integrated management and sustainable development of international watercourses and the vital ecosystems services they provide, through continued and peaceful collaboration and dialogue between riparian states,” said Flavia Rocha Loures, Senior Program Officer with WWF-US.

About the co-editors and other contributors:

Flavia Rocha Loures (Flavia.Loures@WWFUS.ORG) is a Senior Program Officer, International Law and Policy, in the Freshwater Program of WWF-US, based in Washington, DC.

Alistair Rieu-Clarke ( ) is a Reader in International Law at the Centre for Water Law, Policy & Science (under the auspices of UNESCO), at the University of Dundee, UK.

Among the book’s contributors are renowned international experts in the areas of international law and policy, political science and freshwater conservation.

For further information and to order the book please visit:

Launch of the UN Watercourses Convention Online User’s Guide

The Dundee Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science (under the auspices of UNESCO) is delighted to announce the launch today of a new interactive learning website for the UN Watercourses Convention.

The UN Watercourses Convention User’s Guide was published in 2012 as a comprehensive guide to aid interpretation and implementation for water practitioners and decision-makers at all levels. Based on this Guide, an interactive website on the Convention has been developed to cater for the multi-faceted ways in which people learn, as well as functioning as a central information portal and advocacy platform for promoting the Convention.

UN Watercourses Convention Users GuideThis innovative, interactive online tool includes the following features:

  • Easy online navigation to all the specific Articles of the Convention and accompanying guidance materials that have been developed to explain important theoretical/practical aspects for their implementation.
  • Multimedia resources including video explanations regarding critical aspects of the Convention by experts in the relevant fields of water law and policy from around the world.
  • An online map with links to examples of case studies and workshops from different regions and river basins where work has been, or is still, conducted on the Convention by the Centre and our counterparts.
  • Summary ‘Fact Sheets’ giving concise and accessible explanations of key legal provisions and concepts.
  • Interactive learning modules such as quizzes to test your knowledge and understanding of the Convention.



The UN Watercourses Convention website is the continuation of extensive work done by the UNWC Global Initiative (a partnership between the Centre, the WWF and Green Cross) aimed at promoting the benefits of the UN Watercourses Convention to all nations with transboundary freshwater rivers, as well as supporting states to ratify the Convention and accelerate its intended entry into force.

For more about the UNWC Global Initiative, click here.

UN Watercourses Convention User’s Guide

Adopted in 1997 by the UN General Assembly, the Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UN Watercourses Convention), seeks to, ‘ensure the utilisation, development, conservation, management and protection of international watercourses and the promotion of the optimal and sustainable utilisation thereof for present and future generations’ (Preamble).

The User’s Guide to the UN Watercourses Convention provides an Article by Article explanation of the text of this global framework instrument. In so doing, the Guide explains the meaning and purpose of each Article, and offers guidance on how the rights and obligations of contained therein policymakers and decision makers, implementation agencies and other bodies responsible for transboundary water issues.

To download a PDF of the UN Watercourses Convention User’s Guide, click here.

UNWC Global Initiative Symposium 2012 Proceedings

Symposium 2012The IHP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science (under the auspices of UNESCO) (CWLPS) is very pleased to announce the publication of the Proceedings from the UN Watercourses Convention (UNWC) Global Initiative Symposium held in Dundee, Scotland, in June 2012.

At over 400 pages, these Proceedings are a comprehensive collection of materials (programme, accepted abstracts, slideshow presentations, and some full papers) featured as part of the Symposium. The biographies of participants and others who contributed to the Symposium are also included.

The Proceedings are available to download as a PDF here

In his foreword, Dr Alistair Rieu-Clarke, Reader in International Law from the CWLPS and co-convener of the event, writes:

‘With Niger recently becoming the 30th nation to accede to the UNWC, as of the beginning of May 2013 the Convention now requires only five more parties for it to enter in to force. By publishing these proceedings it is hoped that an audience beyond those who participated in the Symposium may also be able to access and engage with the UNWC, especially its past, present and potential future roles and relevance in relation to the world’s transboundary freshwater resources the Convention’s imminent entry into force’.

Special Issue of ‘Water International’ on the UN Watercourses Convention

Special Issue & Symposium Banner 1Staff from the Centre have co-edited a special issue of the inter-disciplinary journal ‘Water International’, focusing specifically on the UN Watercourses Convention (UNWC), which was published this week.

Reader in International Law, Dr Alistair Rieu-Clarke, and Researcher, Mr Rémy Kinna, from the Centre, along with Ms Flavia Rocha Loures, Senior Programme Officer at the WWF, co-edited the special issue, entitled: “The UN Watercourses Convention: What Relevance in the 21st Century?”. It is accessible here.

It features a collection of the best papers presented at a symposium held at the University in June 2012 which focused on the UNWC’s role and relevance in the 21st Century.

This special issue, as with the symposium, brings together a broad and diverse range of papers dealing with crucial, topical aspects and questions regarding the future of this global framework agreement. The aim is to promote and disseminate discussion and debate about the existing and potential relevance of the UNWC amongst a wide variety of stakeholders.

The other papers presented at the symposium and their accompanying abstracts will be published in late April 2013 via the CWLPS’s website here.

For further details on the special issue of ‘Water International’ or the upcoming Symposium Proceedings, please contact Mr Rémy Kinna:

GWP-University of Dundee scholarships announced

GWP-University of Dundee As capacity-building support to its Partner organisations, Global Water Partnership, together with the Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, University of Dundee, will offer scholarships for 30 participants to undertake a module in International Water Law, in Dundee 10 -21 June 2013.

Further information here

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