Article 2

2.1.6 Regional economic organisations


Article 2(d) of the UN Watercourses Convention provides that regional economic integration organisations can become a contracting state to the Convention. Therefore organisations such as the European Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), could become contracting parties to the Convention. However, regional economic organisations can only become contracting parties to the Convention if competence is transferred from the members of that organisation in respect of matters governed by the Convention. Moreover, such bodies would have to be authorised to ratify or accede thereto by their members. To date, no regional economic organisation has requested permission to become a party to the Convention.

While regional organisations have been included in the Convention’s definition of a ‘watercourse state’, nothing in the Convention implies that regional organisations have the status of states in international law.142 Likewise, it is wrong to assume that a member of those bodies that is not a riparian state could acquire any rights and duties regarding a given international watercourse simply because the regional organisation of which that state is a member acceded to the Convention.143

142 Report of the Sixth Committee convening as the Working Group of the Whole (prepared by Chusei YAMADA), UN Doc. A/51/869 (11 April 1997) at 5.

143 SMA Salman, ‘The United Nations Watercourses Convention Ten Years Later: Why Has its Entry into Force Proven Difficult?’ (2007) 32(1) Water International 1 at 11.

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