Practice and Prospects with the UNECE Agreements
The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and Lakes (Water Convention) came into force on 6 October 1996, after adoption in Helsinki on 17 March 1992 with 30 signatories then, or soon after. There are currently 39 Parties including the EU. Since 2013 it has been a global treaty, and, outside the UNECE region is hence potentially applicable to other Asian states, subject to further ratifications by existing Parties. This is particularly relevant given the large number of transboundary watercourses in the region and the need to regulate matters of environmental protection, and ensure equitable and reasonable use. Despite this, academic interest to date has focused on the 1997 UN Convention on International Watercourses (International Water Convention), which recently entered into force and is discussed in a final section of this chapter. Parties to the Water Convention include one western Asian state (Azerbaijan), three central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and Russia. It is expected that other states will join shortly. Iran for example has recently expressed an interest in joining the Convention, as has Iraq. The Convention has two protocols, the Water and Health Protocol, and the Civil Liability Protocol, the latter of which is shared with the Industrial Accidents Convention. The Water and Health Protocol has 36 signatories and 26 Parties, including Azerbaijan and Russia (Parties) and Armenia and Georgia (signatories).
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