Cameroon confirms intention to accede to the Water Convention

Cameroon shares most of its water resources - such as Lake Chad, the Congo, Sanaga and Niger rivers - with other states. Cooperation on these shared waters is therefore essential to ensure economic development and preserve regional stability.

As a result, Cameroon is also a heavily involved in several transboundary basin organizations (Lake Chad Basin Commission, International Commission of the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin, Niger Basin Authority) and other regional organizations (Economic Community of Central African States, African Union, African Minister’s Council on Water). In this context, Cameroon confirmed its intention to accelerate its accession process to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) which constitutes a unique global legal and intergovernmental framework for the sustainable management of transboundary water resources, serviced by UNECE. This was the main outcome of the national workshop on the Convention held in Yaoundé on 5-6 November 2019.

The national workshop, co-organized by the Ministry of Water and Energy, Global Water Partnership and the UNECE, aimed to detail the obligations under the Convention, the benefits that Cameroon can derive from its accession and possible challenges, as well as the next steps in the process. The workshop brought together about sixty participants from different ministries, basin organizations and civil society. It was funded by the European Union.

Aware of the impact of the water issue on the different sectors of development of the country, Cameroon has early on listed cooperation on transboundary water resources among its major concerns. At the national level, the country has initiated the revision of the legal framework for the water sector to integrate transboundary waters. Also, at the regional level, the country has ratified the Water Charters of the Niger River and Lake Chad basins which principles are convergent with those of the Water Convention.

In this regard, the Minister recalled "It is now clear that how we manage these transboundary water challenges has a significant impact on peace, energy and food production, and building resilience to disasters. In relation to the Convention, a ministerial committee has been established within the Ministry of Water and Energy with all stakeholders in the water sector. This committee held four sessions focused on analyzing the strengths / weaknesses, constraints and opportunities of the convention that resulted in today's workshop. It is timely for us to discuss the 1992 Convention with a view to our country's accession".

Sonja Koeppel, Secretary of the Convention, said: "Cameroon has a lot to gain from joining the Water Convention, but also a lot to contribute. I very much appreciate the exemplary process that Cameroon has taken in view of its possible accession, and I hope that this process will be completed soon. "

Mr. Schadek, Ambassador of the European Union to Cameroon stated that "The process of accession of Cameroon to the Helsinki Convention that brings together us today is exemplary, also taking into account the main conclusions of the European Council Conclusions on Water Diplomacy. This is the proof, if it were still needed, of the importance that the country attaches to this instrument whose relevance for conflict prevention, regional stability and peace has been proven ".

The Water Convention has, since its entry into force in 1996, provided an important framework for improving the management of both surface and transboundary waters. than underground. It provides, under the auspices of the United Nations, a strong international legal framework and an elaborate institutional platform for Parties to discuss transboundary water cooperation and share knowledge and experiences in many related areas. to the management and protection of water. The Water Convention has evolved into a universally open multilateral legal framework for transboundary water cooperation, open to accession by all UN Member States since 1 March 2016. Chad and Senegal have joined the Convention as the first African countries in 2018 and some 20 others are in the process.