Article 29

29.1.3 Other international law (soft) applicable to water during armed conflict


In 1976 the ILA adopted at its Madrid Conference a non-binding resolution entitled Water Resources and Installations in Times of Armed Conflict (Madrid Rules). This resolution contains many guidelines aimed to protect water as it affects the civilian population and the environment.427 A subsequent ILA instrument – the Berlin Rules on Water Resources (Berlin Rules), adopted by the ILA Conference in 2004, also contains important provisions on the protection of international watercourses during armed conflict. Chapter X reiterates and slightly modifies the Madrid Rules – Article 52 is especially important and calls on combatants to not, ‘for military purposes or as reprisals, destroy or divert waters, or destroy water installations, when such acts would cause widespread, long-term, and severe ecological damage prejudicial to the health or survival of the population or if such acts would fundamentally impair the ecological integrity of waters.’428

It is argued that the instruments of international humanitarian law (Figure 6.2) – coupled with the above instruments of water law including Article 29 of the UN Watercourses Convention – ‘point to the universal acceptance of certain legally binding rules prohibiting hostile activities against or using water resources and installations as a weapon.’429

427 ILA, Report of the Fifty-Seventh Conference, Madrid, at 237–9 (1976).

428 See 2004 Berlin Rules on Water Resources (Adopted by the ILA at the Seventy- First Conference, Berlin, August 2004) [Berlin Rules]. For extensive Commentary see Wouters, Vinogradov and Magsig, ‘Water Security, Hydrosolidarity and International Law: A River Runs through It’ at 126

429 Wouters, Vinogradov and Magsig, ‘Water Security, Hydrosolidarity and International Law: A River Runs through It …’ (2009) at 126

 

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