Article 33

Settlement of Disputes

Convention Text

1. In the event of a dispute between two or more parties concerning the interpretation or application of the present Convention, the parties concerned shall, in the absence of an applicable agreement between them, seek a settlement of the dispute by peaceful means in accordance with the following provisions.

2. If the parties concerned cannot reach agreement by negotiation requested by one of them, they may jointly seek the good offices of, or request mediation or conciliation by, a third party, or make use, as appropriate, of any joint watercourse institutions that may have been established by them or agree to submit the dispute to arbitration or to the International Court of Justice.

3. Subject to the operation of paragraph 10, if after six months from the time of the request for negotiations referred to in paragraph 2, the parties concerned have not been able to settle their dispute through negotiation or any other means referred to in paragraph 2, the dispute shall be submitted, at the request of any of the parties to the dispute, to impartial fact-finding in accordance with paragraphs 4 to 9, unless the parties otherwise agree.

4. A fact-finding Commission shall be established, composed of one member nominated by each party concerned and in addition a member not having the nationality of any of the parties concerned chosen by the nominated members who shall serve as Chairman.

5. If the members nominated by the parties are unable to agree on a Chairman within three months of the request for the establishment of the Commission, any party concerned may request the Secretary-General of the United Nations to appoint the Chairman who shall not have the nationality of any of the parties to the dispute or of any riparian state of the watercourse concerned. If one of the parties fails to nominate a member within three months of the initial request pursuant to paragraph 3, any other party concerned may request the Secretary-General of the United Nations to appoint a person who shall not have the nationality of any of the parties to the dispute or of any riparian state of the watercourse concerned. The person so appointed shall constitute a single member Commission.

6. The Commission shall determine its own procedure.

7. The parties concerned have the obligation to provide the Commission with such information as it may require and, on request, to permit the Commission to have access to their respective territory and to inspect any facilities, plant, equipment, construction or natural feature relevant for the purpose of its inquiry.

8. The Commission shall adopt its report by a majority vote, unless it is a single-member Commission, and shall submit that report to the parties concerned setting forth its findings and the reasons therefore and such recommendation as it deems appropriate for an equitable solution of the dispute, which the parties concerned shall consider in good faith.

9. The expenses of the Commission shall be borne equally by the parties concerned.

10. When ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to the present Convention, or at any time thereafter, a party which is not a regional economic integration organisation may declare in a written instrument submitted to the depositary that, in respect of any dispute not resolved in accordance with paragraph 2, it recognises as compulsory ipso facto and without special agreement in relation to any party accepting the same obligation:

(a) Submission of the dispute to the International Court of Justice; and/or

(b) Arbitration by an arbitral tribunal established and operating, unless the parties to the dispute otherwise agreed, in accordance with the procedure laid down in the annex to the present Convention;

A party which is a regional economic integration organisation may make a declaration with like effect in relation to arbitration in accordance with subparagraph (b).

Video: Anton Earle Video: Anton Earle Application of the UNWC in Southern Africa and interaction with the SADC Protocol
Video: Alistair Rieu-Clarke Video: Alistair Rieu-Clarke Dispute settlement mechanisms in the UNWC (Art.33)

Download Fact Sheets

Dispute Prevention and Settlement.pdf

Relationship with UNECE Water Convention

Relationship with SADC Revised Protocol


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