Substantive Rules

Substantive rules define the rights and obligations of States relating to the utilization and protection of international watercourses. The 1997 UN Watercourse Convention (see box below) and other multilateral conventions basically emphasize three substantive rules or principles that form the basis for equitable sharing of benefits from the shared river basin:



United Nations Watercourse Convention (1997):

The Convention is a framework instrument which sets forth general substantive and procedural provisions to be applied by all Parties irrespective of their specific geographical location, or position vis-à-vis other watercourse States, or level of development.

The scope of the Convention covers primarily non-navigational uses of international watercourses. The latter is defined as “a system of surface and groundwaters constituting by virtue of their physical relationship a unitary whole and normally flowing into a common terminus.”

“General Principles” set forth basic substantive rules applicable to international watercourses, having as cornerstone the principles “equitable and reasonable utilization” and “Obligation not to cause significant harm”.

So far the Convention has not yet entered into force as the necessary number of States ratifying it has not yet been reached.

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