The Influence of the UN Watercourses Convention on the Development of the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA)

Author:Abiy Chelkeba
Position:Abiy Chelkeba LL.B (MU), M.A (MU), LL.M (AAU); Assistant Professor of Law; and Amsterdam-Mekele University LL.M Joint programs project coordinator at School of Law, College of Law and Governance, Mekele University. I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Email: chewabiy@gmail.com
Pages:165-190
SUMMARY

The 1997 UN Watercourses Convention has influenced the development of many bilateral and multilateral international water agreements. There is ongoing debate on the extent to which the Watercourses Convention has influenced the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA). In this article, the author examines the interface between Watercourses Convention and CFA on some of the most... (see full summary)

 
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The Influence of the UN Watercourses
Convention on the Development of the Nile
River Basin Cooperative Framework
Agreement (CFA)
Abiy Chelkeba
Abstract
The 1997 UN Watercourses Convention has influenced the development of many
bilateral and multilateral international water agreements. There is ongoing debate
on the extent to which the Watercourses Convention has influenced the Nile River
Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA). In this article, the author
examines the interface between Watercourses Convention and CFA on some of the
most contentious issues therein. It is argued that the Watercourses Convention has
(in spite of various criticisms) greatly influenced the development of CFA in terms
of the substantive and procedural contents of the agreement. The influence of the
Watercourses Convention is more visible in shaping some of the major substantive
principles such as the general obligation to cooperate, the principle of equitable and
reasonable utilization, and the duty not to cause significant harm. The Watercourses
Convention has also influenced the CFA‟s procedural rules such as the duty to
exchange information, settlement of disputes and institutionalization of cooperation.
In the era of increasing water security tension among the Nile River riparian states,
the Watercourses Convention is set to dominate emerging new developments
toward regulating the utilization, conservation, and management of the Nile River.
Key terms
Watercourses Convention · CFA · Nile · Impact · International Water Law
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mlr.v12i1.6
Received: 5 February 2018 Accepted: 30 September 2018
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-
NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)
Abiy Chelkeba LL.B (MU), M.A (MU), LL.M (AAU); Assistant Professor of Law; and
Amsterdam-Mekele University LL.M Joint programs project coordinator at School of
Law, College of Law and Governance, Mekele University. I would like to thank the
anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Email: chewabiy@gmail.co m
Frequently used acronym:
CFA Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement
166 MIZAN LAW REVIEW, Vol. 12, No.1 September 2018
Introduction
On 21 May 1997, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the
Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International
Watercourses (Watercourses Convention) which it entered into force on 17
August 2014.1 The adoption of the Watercourses Convention resulted from to a
two-decade process the General Assembly had initiated.2 On 8 December 1970,
the General Assembly adopted resolution 2666 (XXV), entitled „Progressive
Development and Codification of the Rules of International Law Relating to
International Watercourses‟.3 In the same resolution, the General Assembly
recommended that the International Law Commission „take up the study of the
law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses with a view to its
progressive development and codification‟.4
The Watercourses Convention is considered as one of the leading legal
instruments in relation to non-navigational uses of international watercourses.
The Watercourses convention has the advantage of being broad in concept and
encompassing all aspects associated with non-navigational water use. The
Watercourses Convention is basic framework convention that aims to regulate
the different aspects of water use, water management, protection and
conservation of transboundary watercourses, and „promote optimal and
sustainable utilization thereof for present and future generations‟.5 As a
framework convention, it lays down the fundamental substantive and procedural
rules of the regulation of international watercourses and leaves the details for the
riparian states so that they can draw their water agreements in the context of
their respective river basins in question and if possible, harmonize it with
Watercourses Convention.6
1 The Convention was adopted on 21 May 1997 by G.A. Resolution 511229 with 106
affirmative votes, 26 abstentions and three negative votes, i.e. Burundi, China and T urkey.
See United Nations (1997a) General Assembly Official Records, 99th Plenary Meeting
(A/51/PV.99), 21 May 1997 p. 7- 8. For a full text see:
www.un.org/ga/documents/gares51/ga51229.htm
2 Stephen C. McCaffrey, Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses o f
International Watercourses, United Nations Audiovisual library of international law
available at www.un.org/law/avI, p.1.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 See the preamble of the Watercourse Convention, para 4. See also Salman M.A. Salman
(2015), Entry into force of the UN Watercourses Convention: Why should it matter?,
Interna tional Journal of Water Resources Development, 31:1, 4-16, , p.7. DOI:
10.1080/07900627.2014.952072
6 Id., p. 8.

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