UN Watercourses Convention | WWF

In 1997, more than 100 nations gathered to adopt the UN Watercourses Convention – a flexible and overarching global legal framework that establishes basic standards and rules for cooperation between watercourse states on the use, management, and protection of international watercourses.


On 21 May 2014, Viet Nam became the 35th contracting state to the UN Watercourses Convention. As a result of this, the UNWC entered into force on the 17th of August 2014. In the mean time, we have welcomed the State of Palestine as the 36th party.


In early 2006, WWF launched a global initiative to promote the UN Watercourses Convention and accelerate its ratification process. The initiative has mobilized several governments and other stakeholders in efforts to raise awareness, build capacity and support countries interested in becoming parties to the convention. Such partners include Green Cross, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, the IHP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, under the auspices of UNESCO, and the Global Nature Fund, among others.


Download further information on the Convention:

1) Text of the UN Watercourses Convention:


2) Everything you need to know about the UN Watercourses Convention: an informational brochure that includes freshwater facts and various case studies from around the globe.

·         Brochure in English (2015), French, Spanish, RussianKorean (2014)


3) Voting records: see which countries sponsored and voted for the adoption of the UN Watercourses Convention in 1997.


4) Ratification status: see which nations have taken the lead in international water policy by joining the UN Watercourses Convention.


5) Procedures for ratification/accession: see the steps a government must follow to ratify or accede to the UN Watercourses Convention.


6) Information briefs: role and relevance of the UN Watercourses Convention in specific regions


·         European Union


·        Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

In French


·         Southern African Development Community (SADC)



    © Michel Roggo / WWF
Everything you need to know about the UN Watercourses Convention
© Michel Roggo / WWF

Interactive tools and resources

WWF calls on the world's governments to join and implement the 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UN Watercourses Convention).

News and information

·         WWF regional and thematic assessments on the UN Watercourses Convention


·         Useful articles and papers for further information


·         Newsletters


·         Media releases and news stories


·         Events