Article 30

30.2 Application

30.2.1 Scenario – Exceptional cases utilise indirect procedure to cooperate

Upper riparian state A and lower riparian state B have a long history of disagreement over the transboundary river. State A has also recently emerged from a 30 year period of internal conflict and this has prevented it from fully developing its hydro-potential to irrigate its highly fertile soils. State B has experienced a less tumultuous internal period and has built up significant industry based around a reliable flow from the river. State A begins unilaterally developing barrages and canal diversions for irrigation. This threatens State B’s existing industry and economy and State B sends military forces to inspect the developments. State A reacts and significantly reduces the flow of water into State B. This brings both parties to the brink of conflict.

There is no specific treaty for sharing the river but both States are contracting Parties to the UN Watercourses Convention. Relations have deteriorated so rapidly that direct contact cannot be established between the watercourse states and therefore they are prevented from being able to comply with their existing obligations in the manner set out under Articles 9 to 19 of the Convention. However, even during such exceptional circumstances, the existence of Article 30 means that the 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. Both states agree to an offer by the UN Secretary-General to utilise the good offices of the UN Secretary-General to assist them in exchanging information.440


440 See United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, Handbook on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes between States (United Nations 1992) at 37 – 39 for examples of the use of the UN Secretary General’s Good Offices.


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