On 23 June 2014, Montenegro joined the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) and the amendments to the Convention that allow accession by countries outside the UNECE region. Ninety days after depositing its instrument of accession with the United Nations Secretary-General, Montenegro will become the fortieth Party to the Convention and the thirty-sixth Party to the amendments.
Water may be considered Montenegro’s greatest natural resource, as it has an abundance of surface water. According to the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, the country is among the top 4 per cent of the world’s territories in terms of average outflow. Ninety-five per cent of Montenegrin rivers originate within the country. Of those, 52 per cent find their way to the Danube River to the north, through neighbouring Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the rest flows south towards the Adriatic, or south-east towards Skadarsko Lake, shared with Albania.
Montenegro’s accession to the UNECE Water Convention is an important step in the process of strengthening transboundary water cooperation and integrated water resources management in South-Eastern Europe, particularly because its neighbours — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia — are already Parties to the Convention.
Considering the abundance of water and the constant flood risk — floods potentially threaten 24,500 hectares of farmland and urban areas in Montenegro — the country’s accession to the UNECE Water Convention may be particularly relevant in the light of the severe flooding that has affected parts of South-Eastern Europe over recent months. Cooperation with riparian States on the monitoring of the conditions of transboundary waters, particularly floods, and joint action in this field are of great importance for the region. The UNECE Water Convention provides an important legal basis for such dialogue and cooperation.
Note to editors:
The UNECE Water Convention has provided, since its entry into force in 1996, an important framework for improving the management of transboundary surface water and groundwater resources in the pan-European region. It has since become a global multilateral legal framework for transboundary water cooperation, open to accession by all United Nations Member States.
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