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Water Convention

The UNECE Water Convention

Helsinki, 17 March 1992

The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) is intended to strengthen national measures for the protection and ecologically sound management of transboundary surface waters and groundwaters.

The Convention obliges Parties to prevent, control and reduce transboundary impact, use transboundary waters in a reasonable and equitable way and ensure their sustainable management. Parties bordering the same transboundary waters shall cooperate by entering into specific agreements and establishing joint bodies. The Convention includes provisions on monitoring, research and development, consultations, warning and alarm systems, mutual assistance, and exchange of information, as well as access to information by the public.

Initially negotiated as a regional instrument, the Convention was amended in 2003 to allow accession by all the United Nations Member States. The amendments entered into force on 6 February 2013, turning the Convention into a global legal framework for transboundary water cooperation. It is expected that countries outside the ECE region will be able to join the Convention as of 2014.

Protocol on Water and Health

London, 17 June 1999
Boy drinks water

The Protocol on Water and Health aims to protect human health and well being by better water management, including the protection of water ecosystems, and by preventing, controlling and reducing water-related diseases. It is the first international agreement of its kind adopted specifically to attain an adequate supply of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for everyone, and effectively protect water used as a source of drinking water. Parties to the Protocol commit to set targets in relation to the entire water cycle.

Protocol on Civil Liability

Kiev, 21 May 2003

The Protocol on Civil Liability provides for a comprehensive regime for civil liability and for adequate and prompt compensation for damage resulting from transboundary effects of industrial accidents on transboundary waters.

Press Releases

UNECE to help Azerbaijan finalize its water sector strategy (27 January 2014), available in English and Russian

Priority areas for water and health targets set in Armenia (13 December 2013), available in English

Workshop highlights benefits of UNECE Water Convention for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (4 November 2013), available in English

UNECE plans in support of water policy approved by Steering Committee in Kyrgyzstan (21 October 2013), available in English

Iraq and Tunisia express interest in joining UNECE Water Convention (16 October 2013), available in English

UNECE launches a clearing house for information on water and health in the Republic of Moldova (10 October 2013), available in English

UNECE helps Armenia to set targets on water and health (27 September 2013), available in English










Interview on the Kura river negotiations

UNECE-GIZ Programme "Regional dialogue in Central Asia", Phase II

Dam Safety Project

Climate change pilot project- online platform for exchanging experience

See short interviews on the progress of EU Water Initiative National Policy Dialogues in Central Asia on YouTube produced by UNTV (2012, all in Russian): NPDs in Kyrgyz Republic, in Tajikistan and in Turkmenistan

See short movies on YouTube produced by UNTV (2011):
"Dam safety in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan" in English and Russian

"UNECE helps Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to cooperate on water management" in English and Russian

Meetings and Events

© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013