UN Watercourses Convention

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).

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.


The UN Watercourses Convention counts today 34 contracting states – just 1 short of the number required for entry into force.


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 (UNSGAB), the IHP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, under the auspices of UNESCO, and the Global Nature Fund, among others.

Today, WWF and its partners are calling for the entry into force of the UN Watercourses Convention. In an effort to achieve this goal, we have collected signed postcards, symbolizing the signatory’s commitment to our call for additional ratifications and a pledge to work proactively towards having the convention in force.


The postcard campaign is meant to be an inspiring living process, with successive endorsement messages adding up, in order to help build a critical body of support, resources and capacity for facilitating additional ratifications for the convention's entry into force.


We encourage you to download copies of the postcards and of their accompanying leaflet, in order to find out more about what YOU can do to help achieve this goal, whether you are an influential individual, a government official, or a representative of an NGO or other interested institution. While our original target date has passed, momentum has been building steadily, and the International Year of Water Cooperation in 2013 has brought renewed attention to the convention. Join the numerous individuals and institutions that have already vowed to support the UN Watercourses Convention Global Initiative.

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, French, Spanish, Russian


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)



 / ©: Michael Roggo
Everything you need to know about the UN Watercourses Convention
© Michael Roggo

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