Article 1

1.1.2 Geographical boundaries and water use

Article 1(1) of the UN Watercourses Convention adopts a broad definition of both geographical and hydrological scope and the scope of water ‘uses’ of international watercourses, and is designed to capture multiple economic, social and environmental dimensions of water – other than navigation 89 In using the term ‘watercourses and their waters’, the Convention emphasises that both the water channel itself, and interrelated components, as well as the waters contained therein, are subject to its provisions. In addition, by specifically mentioning the waters of a watercourse, the Convention would apply in the case that such waters are diverted away from their watercourse.90An example of the latter might be where water is diverted out of the main channel of an international watercourse into a canal for the purpose of hydropower (diversionary dam), for irrigation, or where it is diverted into a canal and carried to a reservoir for municipal or industrial use. The geographical and hydrological scope of the Convention is elaborated upon further under Article 2 and Figure 1.1. For a summary of how the world’s water resources are distributed see Figure 1.2.

89 For examination of the multiple use dimensions of water, see R Lenton and M Muller (eds.), Integrated Water Resources Management in Practice – Better Water Management for Development (Earthscan 2009).

90 ILC Draft Articles on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International
Watercourses in UNGA ‘Report of the International Law Commission on the Work of its Forty-Sixth Session’ (2 May-22 July 1994) UNGAOR, 49th Session Supp No 10 UN Doc A/49/10 (1994) at 89 (Hereafter 1994 Draft Articles).

Figure 1.1 Figure 1.1 Scope Defines the Legal Coverage of a Treaty – Waters and Water Use (Source Authors)
Figure 1.2 - Status of World Water (Source UNESCO) Figure 1.2 Status of World Water (Source UNESCO)

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