Article 19

19.2 Application


19.2.1 Scenario 1

State A (upstream) and state B (downstream) share a transboundary river. State A is a small developing country with low GDP but it has considerable deposits of rare earth minerals. Mining company X is contemplating a huge investment in state A to develop these resources. This investment would result in an enormous economic boom for state A, but the water hungry operation would require a substantive reservoir to be built.

During the initial negotiation, company X is making it clear that it will only invest in state A if the necessary water infrastructure will be in place. Since there are other countries state X could exploit the minerals in, the company pushes state A to initiate the construction of a dam as soon as possible in order not to lose the lucrative business.

State A, aware of its legal obligations, immediately submits a declaration of urgency to state B, arguing that the dam will have to be built immediately, since the time frame given by company X is very limited.

In this case, however, the economic pressures do not satisfy the requirements for ‘urgent implementation,’ which only come into play where public health or safety is at risk. Hence, state A and state B would have to follow the procedures of Articles 13-18.

19.2.2 Scenario 2

State A (upstream) and state B (downstream) share a transboundary river. State A, a small developing country, has a significant agricultural base supporting its people, 80% of which live below the poverty level and depend upon subsistence farming.

State A depends heavily on the shared river for irrigation, since it does not have any alternative freshwater resources and the climate does not allow for rain-fed agriculture. Due to a change of climate, the level of snowfall which feeds the headwaters of the international watercourse was remarkably lower this winter compared to previous years.

In order to avoid famine, state A is now rushing to upgrade its reservoirs, allowing for more storage capacity. It argues that the exceptional circumstances allow for procedures under Article 19 of the Convention, since there is little time left to avoid a widespread humanitarian disaster in the region.

In this case, state A would likely be allowed to immediately start implementation, without having to wait for the expiry of the periods in place for the reply of state B to its notification and potential consultations and negotiations – subject to being confident that its (state A) actions are consistent with Articles 5-7 of the Convention.

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