Article 11

11.2 Application

States A (upstream), B (midstream) and C (downstream) share a transboundary watercourse which is prone to flooding. In recent years, the socio-economic damage caused by the floods has increased dramatically – mainly due to the swelling of the urban areas close to the river banks. While both states B and C experience these large scale natural disasters, state B is being hit the hardest, since its population is growing much faster.

After trying to minimise the flood risk by means of planting vegetation to retain water and the construction of smaller floodways, state B decides to construct a reservoir which can hold the extra water during times of flooding. In addition, the dam is supposed to produce hydropower to quench the ever-growing thirst for energy in state B.

State C has only learned about the planned project from the media, and now claims state B should have provided information regarding the dam and entered into consultation with states A and C according to Article 11 of the UNWC. State B rejects the claim, stating that the dam will not have any impact on state A; and would only positively affect state C, since it drastically reduces the risk of damages from floods for both countries by storing water in the rainy season while it also increases the flow in the dry period.

In this case, the line of argument of state B does not hold. While it is true that the planned measure will (almost certainly) only have positive impacts for the downstream state C, state B still has to exchange information with the other watercourse states. This is due to the fact that Article 11 has been drafted as a general obligation which comes into play even if the effects are solely beneficial. The idea is to provide for basin wide risk reduction and security planning.

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