Part V

Quiz


In the prevention and mitigation of harmful conditions related to an international watercourse, is transboundary flooding beyond the scope of Art 27 of the UN Watercourses Convention?

Yes – Incorrect

In preventing and mitigating harmful conditions related to an international watercourse, transboundary flooding is within the scope of harmful conditions under Article 27 of the Convention.

Article 27 of the UN Watercourses Convention stipulates that ‘watercourse states shall, individually and, where appropriate, jointly, take all appropriate measures to prevent or mitigate conditions related to an international watercourse that may be harmful to other watercourse states, whether resulting from natural causes or human conduct, such as flood or ice conditions, water-borne diseases, siltation, erosion, salt-water intrusion, drought or desertification’. The specific reference to ‘flood’ conditions within the provision means that transboundary flooding would fall within the scope of harmful conditions. Therefore, watercourse states must take ‘all appropriate measures’ to prevent or mitigate transboundary flooding conditions related to an international watercourse that may be harmful to other watercourse states.

Regarding the inclusion of ‘take all appropriate measures’, the Online User’s Guide importantly points out that:

‘in more general terms Article 27 of the UN Watercourses Convention requires states to adopt, ‘all appropriate measures’ to prevent or mitigate conditions related to an international watercourse that may be harmful to other watercourse states, thus couching this Article as a due diligence obligation’.

Hence, in the event of harmful conditions such as transboundary flooding being caused, watercourse states must be able to demonstrate that they took all measures that were reasonably possible based on the specific circumstances and their own capacity in order to prevent or mitigate such harm.

No – Correct

In preventing and mitigating harmful conditions related to an international watercourse, transboundary flooding is within the scope of harmful conditions under Article 27 of the Convention.

Article 27 of the UN Watercourses Convention stipulates that ‘watercourse states shall, individually and, where appropriate, jointly, take all appropriate measures to prevent or mitigate conditions related to an international watercourse that may be harmful to other watercourse states, whether resulting from natural causes or human conduct, such as flood or ice conditions, water-borne diseases, siltation, erosion, salt-water intrusion, drought or desertification’. The specific reference to ‘flood’ conditions within the provision means that transboundary flooding would fall within the scope of harmful conditions. Therefore, watercourse states must take ‘all appropriate measures’ to prevent or mitigate transboundary flooding conditions related to an international watercourse that may be harmful to other watercourse states.

Are States required to jointly establish contingency plans to prevent, mitigate and eliminate the impacts of landslides or earthquakes on international watercourses?

Yes – Correct

States are indeed required to establish contingency plans to prevent, mitigate and eliminate the impacts of landslides or earthquakes on international watercourses under Article 28 of the UN Watercourses Convention.

Under Art 28(4) of the UN Watercourses Convention ‘when necessary, watercourse States shall jointly develop contingency plans for responding to emergencies, in cooperation, where appropriate, with other potentially affected States and competent international organisations’. This provision therefore establishes a general duty to jointly develop contingency plans for emergency situations.

For the purposes of the obligations under this provision, Art 28(1) defines ‘emergency‘ as meaning ‘a situation that causes or poses an imminent threat of causing, serious harm to watercourse states or other states and that results suddenly from natural causes, such as floods, the breaking up of ice, landslides or earthquakes, or from human conduct, such as industrial accidents’. Therefore, watercourse states are under an obligation to jointly develop contingency plans, when necessary, as well as with non-watercourse states and competent international organisations, where appropriate, regarding responding to emergencies such as landslide or earthquakes.

No – Incorrect

States are indeed required to establish contingency plans to prevent, mitigate and eliminate the impacts of landslides or earthquakes on international watercourses under Article 28 of the UN Watercourses Convention.

Under Art 28(4) of the UN Watercourses Convention ‘when necessary, watercourse States shall jointly develop contingency plans for responding to emergencies, in cooperation, where appropriate, with other potentially affected States and competent international organisations’. This provision therefore establishes a general duty to jointly develop contingency plans for emergency situations.

For the purposes of the obligations under this provision, Art 28(1) defines ‘emergency‘ as meaning ‘a situation that causes or poses an imminent threat of causing, serious harm to watercourse states or other states and that results suddenly from natural causes, such as floods, the breaking up of ice, landslides or earthquakes, or from human conduct, such as industrial accidents’. Therefore, watercourse states are under an obligation to jointly develop contingency plans, when necessary, as well as with non-watercourse states and competent international organisations, where appropriate, regarding responding to emergencies such as landslide or earthquakes.

That Art 28(4) of the Convention clarifies situations to which this obligation must be applied before placing limitations on the general obligation. Under Art 28(4), the requirement applies ‘when necessary’ for watercourse states, and, ‘where appropriate’ for other potentially affected States and other competent international organisations, recognises that it may not be reasonable and therefore necessary to develop contingency plans for all emergency scenarios. This necessity will be evaluated on the basis of a particular emergency situation and the capacity of each state to respond.

Does the term ‘emergency situations’, as defined under Art 28 of the UN Watercourses Convention, only incorporate natural causes?

Yes – Incorrect

Under Article 28 of the UN Watercourses Convention, the term ‘emergency situations’ incorporates both natural causes as well as those resulting from human conduct.

For the purposes of the obligations under this provision, Art 28(1) defines ‘emergency‘ as meaning ‘a situation that causes or poses an imminent threat of causing, serious harm to watercourse states or other states and that results suddenly from natural causes, such as floods, the breaking up of ice, landslides or earthquakes, or from human conduct, such as industrial accidents’. Therefore, the scope of the Convention regarding emergency situations covers those resulting from either natural causes or human conduct, as well as emergency situations that are a composite of both causes.

For discussion on the Convention’s obligations relating to transboundary harm, see Fact Sheet #5.

No – Correct

Under Article 28 of the UN Watercourses Convention, the term ‘emergency situations’ incorporates both natural causes as well as those resulting from human conduct.

For the purposes of the obligations under this provision, Art 28(1) defines ‘emergency‘ as meaning ‘a situation that causes or poses an imminent threat of causing, serious harm to watercourse states or other states and that results suddenly from natural causes, such as floods, the breaking up of ice, landslides or earthquakes, or from human conduct, such as industrial accidents’. Therefore, the scope of the Convention regarding emergency situations covers those resulting from either natural causes or human conduct, as well as emergency situations that are a composite of both causes.

For discussion on the Convention’s obligations relating to transboundary harm, see Fact Sheet #5.

 

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