Programme  Poster session 3  abstract 496

The UN Convention on International Watercourses: Do we need it?

Author(s): Maria Tzatzaki Vasiliki
LLB Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Postgraduate Certificate in European Higher Legal Studies, UNiversity of Leicester LLM University of Athens (Thessis: The Law of International Watercourses) LLM candidate the London School of Economics abd Polit

Keyword(s): UN Convention, ecosystem, human right to water, holistic approach

Poster: abs496_poster.ppt
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Session: Poster session 3
AbstractThe United Nations on

International Watercourses: Do we Need it?


Improving legal and institutional

(Oral Presentation)

Vasiliki-Maria Tzatzaki
7 P. Sindika Street
54 643

0030 6948507466

The Convention on

the Law of the Non Navigational Uses of International Watercourses was adopted by the General Assembly of the

United Nations in May 1997. It is a framework Convention, setting the general principles for the management of

international watercourses that the states have to abide by, when concluding regional agreements. The obligation to

cooperate, not to cause significant harm to other riparian states, to use the fresh water resources in a reasonable and

equitable manner and to protect the environment are the core rules of the international agreement. However, the

adoption of the Convention has proven to be controversial, since its efficiency is disputed. The fact that so far it has

not attained enough ratifications, so as to enter into force, makes this legal framework weak. For that reason,

scholars have made suggestions in order to improve the legal mechanism. The ecosystemic and the human right to

water approaches are the two most common. This paper is going to argue that these approaches deal with the

problem in a fragmented way, making thus a holistic approach necessary. Such an integrated approach takes into

account the interests of the riparian states, the needs of the population, the preservation of the aquatic environment

and the fact that water is an economic good.

The objective of this paper is to demonstrate that

the international legal framework needs to be improved. The UN Convention has to enter into force and it has to be

used by the riparian states as a guideline for the conclusion of regional agreements. A holistic view of the issue will

show that the UN Convention is a necessary tool for the sound management of fresh water resources.

The analysis is going to be based on a comparative method of the different approaches for the

management of international watercourses and at the same time is going to examine the rules of the UN Convention

along with disputes adjudicated by the International Court of Justice and other international tribunals.


The result of this paper is going to be that a holistic approach to the management of international watercourses is

an imperative in order to improve the international legal framework. All the factors that are necessary for the

equitable and reasonable utilization of international rivers and lakes should be taken into account in order to avoid

future conflicts.

The UN Conventions on International Watercourses is the legal framework of

the international community for the management of international fresh water resources. However, it has to be

strengthened in order to be more efficient; a view of the international basins in toto is a step forward for the sound

management of international watercourses.

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