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Italy ratifies UN Watercourses Convention


Italy ratifies UN Watercourses Convention
Major step towards entry into force of Global Water Treaty

Rome – The Italian Parliament today ratified the United Nations Watercourses Convention, the only global instrument for managing the world’s 276 cross-border rivers and shared watercourses.

The Italian Senate adopted a law ratifying the Convention, following approval by the Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies in May 2012. The move makes Italy the 28th State Party to ratify the UN Watercourses Convention. Thirty-five States must do so for the Convention to enter into force.

“We are pleased that Green Cross Italy’s work to accelerate efforts to ratify the Convention have borne fruit,” said Mr Elio Pacilio, President of Green Cross Italy. “I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the representatives of the government and institutions who embraced and supported our proposal to ratify the Convention.”

The world’s 276 cross-border rivers and connected underground water sources are shared by 145 countries. Their basins are home to 40% of the world’s population.

As water is an essential element of life, access to it poses security concerns, sometimes between countries that share water sources, such as rivers. The absence of a global mechanism to equitably share and sustainably

 manage these watercourses gives rise to insecurity and the potential for conflict.

The eventual entry into force and implementation of the UN Watercourses Convention will address this major weakness in today’s international legal structure, as it is the only global instrument governing the use, management and protection of the world’s shared watercourses.

“It seems that the global stakes surrounding freshwater resources, whether environmental, economic or political, have become more striking to governments,” says Marie-Laure Vercambre, Green Cross International’s Water for Life and Peace Programme Director. “The snow ball effect we are witnessing is extremely encouraging and makes us think that the Convention might reach those 35 State parties in time for 2013, the International Year of Water Cooperation. This will be a major break through in global and legal water governance.”

Bilateral and basin agreements cover just 40% of the world’s shared watercourses, most of which present major gaps and failings in light of the current stakes surrounding fresh and shared water resources.

Negotiated during more than three decades at the UN, this Convention aims to promote environmental, economic and political security. Against the backdrop of the global increase in water demand, pollution, climate change and overexploitation, the Convention provides guidance on balanced and equitable use of these basins. Should a conflict arise over water, the UN Watercourses Convention also proposes dispute settlement mechanisms.

Green Cross International (GCI), founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993, is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization working to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through a combination of advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva and has a growing network of national organizations in over 30 countries.


Paul Garwood
Director of Communications
Green Cross International