The Implementation Committee under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) held its first meeting in Geneva on 5 June 2013.
Members of the Committee unanimously elected Attila Tanzi (Italy), Professor of International Law at the University of Bologna as Chair of the Committee, and Saghit Ibatullin (Kazakhstan), Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, as the Committee's Vice-Chair.
The Committee discussed its role and mandate and encouraged Parties to the Water Convention and other stakeholders to come forward and seek its assistance, support and facilitation to address difficulties in implementing the Convention and in order to prevent water-related disputes.
The launch of activities of the Implementation Committee is an important contribution to the International Year of Water Cooperation (2013), declared by the United Nations General Assembly. A unique advisory procedure, which distinguishes this body from other similar mechanisms, enables the Committee to engage with countries seeking to resolve water issues in a non-confrontational manner and also provides opportunities for the involvement of non-Parties in the procedure upon their consent.
For more information see http://www.unece.org/env/water/implementation_committee.html or contact:
Environmental Affairs Officer
Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 3332
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Note to editors
The Implementation Committee under the UNECE Water Convention was established by the sixth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention (Rome, 28-30 November 2012). It consists of nine members that were elected by the Meeting of the Parties to serve in personal capacity. The members of the Committee represent a good mix and balance of competences to accomplish the Committee's tasks.
The Implementation Committee members include such outstanding lawyers as Johan Gerrit Lammers (Netherlands), Professor of International Law and former Legal Adviser at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Stephen McCaffrey (United States of America), Professor at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and former Special Rapporteur for the International Law Commission's draft articles on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses; and Attila Tanzi (Italy), Professor of International law at the University of Bologna and former Chair of the Legal Board of the Water Convention.
The Committee will benefit from the strong water management expertise, with a clear emphasis on transboundary issues, provided by such members as Vanya Grigorova (Bulgaria), Director of the Executive Environment Agency; Saghit Ibatullin (Kazakhstan), Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea; Kari Kinnunen (Finland), former Chair of the Finnish-Norwegian Border Water Commission and member of the Finnish-Swedish Border River Commission; Anne Schulte-Wulwer-Leidig (Germany), Deputy Head of the secretariat of the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine; Aliaksander Stankevich (Belarus), Head of the Republican Centre for Radiation Control and Environmental Monitoring and former Deputy Head of the Central Scientific Research Institute for the Complex Use of Water Resources; and Ivan Zavadsky (Slovakia), Senior Water Resources Management Specialist with the Global Environment Facility.
The UNECE Water Convention's central aim is to strengthen measures at the local, national and transboundary levels to protect and ensure the quantity, quality and sustainable use of transboundary water resources - both surface waters and groundwaters. Today, 38 countries and the European Union participate in the Convention.
The Convention requires countries to fulfil certain obligations, from observing general principles to implementing concrete actions. The Convention requires Riparian Parties (Parties bordering the same transboundary waters) to enter into specific bilateral or multilateral agreements and to create transboundary institutions, such as river and lake commissions. Other specific obligations include establishment and implementation of joint programmes for monitoring the conditions of transboundary waters; carrying out joint or coordinated assessments of the condition of transboundary waters and the effectiveness of the measures taken to prevent and reduce transboundary impacts; and regular consultations on the management and protection of transboundary waters.