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World Water Day 2009
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 © Swiatek WojtkowiakHow many transboundary river basins are there?

There are 263 transboundary river basins. Over 45 percent of the land surface of the world is covered by river basins that are shared by more than one country. Over 75 percent of all countries, 145 in total, have within their boundaries shared river basins. And 33 nations have over 95 percent of their territory within international river basins.

While most transboundary river basins are shared between just two countries, there are many river basins where this number is much higher. There are 13 basins worldwide that are shared between 5 to 8 countries. Five river basins, the Congo, Niger, Nile, Rhine and Zambezi, are shared between 9 to 11 countries. The river that flows through the most countries is the Danube, which passes through the territory of 18 countries.
 How many people live in transboundary basins?

Over 40 percent of the world’s population resides within internationally shared river basins.
 How many transboundary aquifers are there?

So far, 274 transboundary aquifers have been identified. They lie under 15 percent of the Earth's surface.
 www.flickr.com/jup3nepHow many treaties have been reached relating to transboundary water resources?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has identified more than 3,600 treaties relating to international water resources dating from AD 805 to 1984. The majority of these treaties are concerned with some aspect of navigation.

In the last century, more than 200 water-related treaties have been negotiated and signed.
 When was the first treaty signed?

The history of international water treaties dates as far back as 2500 BC, when the two Sumerian city-states of Lagash and Umma crafted an agreement ending a water dispute along the Tigris River.
 © Swiatek WojtkowiakAre international conflicts over water common?

The total number of water-related interactions between nations are weighted towards cooperation. There have been 507 conflict-related events as opposed to 1,228 cooperative ones. This implies that violence over water is not a strategically rational, effective or economically viable option for countries. In the 20th century, only seven minor skirmishes took place between nations over shared water resources, while over 300 treaties were signed during the same period of time.
 What is international water law?

International water law concerns the rights and obligations that exist, primarily between States, for the management of transboundary water resources. Such legal rules and principles are dedicated to preventing conflict and promoting cooperation of shared water resources.
 What does international law say about the sharing of transboundary water resources?

The UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses was adopted May 21, 1997 after 27 years of development. The Global Convention sets out the basis rights and obligations between States relating to the management of international watercourses.

While the ten-year anniversary of the Watercourses Convention passed in May 2007, only 16 nations have ratified the Convention. For the Convention to enter into force, 35 are needed.

The primary substantive rules of international law is that States must utilize their international watercourses in an equitable and reasonable way and without causing significant harm to their neighbors.
 © Swiatek WojtkowiakWhat rules apply to transboundary aquifers?

The UN Convention on the Law of Non-navigational uses (1997) covered groundwater in a very limited way. Ninteen articles on the law of transboundary aquifers have come in to fill this gap. They were drafted by a team of hydrogeologists and lawyers drawn from UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and the UN International Law Commission. The 6th Committtee of UN General Assembly endorsed the articles and adopted a resolution on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers on Friday, 14 November 2008. The articles have been annexed to a UN resolution, which recommends that the States concerned make appropriate bilateral or regional arrangements for managing their transboundary aquifers on the basis of the principles enunciated in the articles. These principles include States cooperating to prevent and control pollution of their shared aquifers. In view of the importance of these ‘invisible resources’, States are also invited to consider the elaboration of a convention on the basis of the draft articles.

The section is taken from the 1st World Water Development Report 'Water for People, Water for Life', and from the Potential Conflict to Co-operation Potential (PC-CP) website, the publication 'Water security and peace - A synthesis of studies prepared under the PC-CP and Water for Peace process (PDF 2.7 MB)' and the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database (TFDD) at Oregon State University.
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