Last week on 19th of May 2014, Viet Nam became the 35th contracting state to the Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, also known as the UN Watercourses Convention.
This keystone global legal instrument, developed and adopted over 15 years ago will now finally enter in to force in August 2014 as the legal number of ratifying countries has now been reached. This is an historical and important step for the improved governance of internationally shared water resources.
Around 60 per cent of the world’s international river basins today lack any type of cooperative management framework. And many of the existing agreements fail on important issues such as environmental protection or equitable use of the shared resources and therefore provide a weak mechanism for the sustainable management of shared water resources. The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1997 with an overwhelming majority of States and is a global overarching framework governing the rights and duties of States sharing freshwater systems. However it has not been in force until now.
With almost 276 transboundary river basins globally crossing the borders of 148 states the Convention provides an important framework for the sustainable and equitable use of these rivers. It also provides an important measure to promote collaboration between states to jointly find solutions for better water management. The UN Watercourses Convention is crucial for harmonising global efforts to combat and mitigate the symptoms of the current global water crisis. These include water availability, extreme weather and pollution exacerbated by climate change.