Article 30

30.1 Commentary

30.1.1 Obligations of cooperation in exceptional circumstances

Article 30 addresses the exceptional circumstance in which direct contact cannot be established between the watercourse states and therefore states are prevented from being able to comply with their existing obligations in the manner set out under Articles 9 to 19 of the Convention. Exceptional circumstances can include for example during an armed conflict or during a time where the absence of diplomatic relations poses serious obstacles to the kinds of direct contacts provided for under the Convention.435

However, even during such exceptional circumstances states are still under an obligation to cooperate by utilising ‘any other indirect procedure accepted by them’ for the purpose of conveying communications to each other – examples of indirect procedures can include employing the assistance of third countries, armistice commissions and the good offices of international organisations.436

There are several examples where states continued to cooperate over water using such procedures whilst they were at war. Israel and Jordan held secret ‘picnic table’ talks on managing the Jordan River despite being at war with each other from Israel’s independence in 1948 until the 1994 treaty.437 India and Pakistan continued to cooperate during two major wars with the initial assistance of the good offices of the World Bank (which later developed into a much more active role) and were assisted towards signing the Indus Water Treaty in 1960, during a period where conflict continued within Kashmir.438 A final example of such cooperation is over the Mekong. In 1957 the Mekong Committee was established by the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Viet Nam and continued to exchange data and information on water resources development throughout the Vietnam War. Additionally, during the 1970s, and despite the wars in Indochina, the committee managed to produce plans to develop water resources in the lower Mekong basin. This cooperation was assisted with significant involvement by the US and Asian Development Bank.439


435 1994 Draft Articles at 132.

436 Ibid 132.

437 PR MacQuarrie, V Viriyasakultorn and AT Wolf, ‘Promoting Cooperation in the Mekong Region through Water Conflict Management, Regional Collaboration, and Capacity Building’ (2008) 2 GMSARN International Journal 175 at 176.

438 Ibid.

439 Ibid at 179.


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