Article 36

36.1 Commentary


A treaty is intrinsically different to national legislation which, once in force, applies to all whom it has been directed at. An international agreement, like the UN Watercourses Convention, is much closer to a contract, which can only be in force for those states that have consented to be bound by it. A state can express this consent in several ways – by ratification, acceptance, approval or accession (see Section 35.1).Each of the states which has expressed consent is then a ‘contracting state’ to the Convention,543 and should, from that point on, never be referred to as ‘signatory,’ to avoid confusion. Signature is only one of the ways of consenting to be bound, and is in most cases subject to ratification; making it a rather loose term.544 However, when states express their consent to be bound, the entry into force of the Convention does not automatically follow for them. This depends on whether the Convention is already in force or whether more contracting states are needed to reach the number of states required for its entry into force. Only once this has happened will all ‘contracting states’ also become ‘parties’ to the Convention.545

The UN Watercourses Convention follows the tradition of other multilateral treaties:546 It enters into force after a specified period (‘on the ninetieth day’) following the deposit of the last instrument of ratification needed for the entry into force (thirty-fifth instrument). In case a state or regional economic integration organisation accedes to the Convention after its entry into force, it will enter into force for that particular state or organisation on the ninetieth day after the deposit of the instrument.

Paragraph 3 of Article 36 clarifies that in case a regional economic integration organisation deposits an instrument, it cannot be counted as an additional instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to those of states regarding Paragraphs 1 and 2.

543 Article 2(1)(f) 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (adopted 23 May 1969, entered into force 27 January 1980) 1155 UNTS 331 (Vienna Convention).

544 A Aust, Handbook of International Law (2nd edn, Cambridge University Press 2010) at 62.

545 Article 2(1)(g) 1969 Vienna Convention

546 A Aust, Handbook of International Law at 74.

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