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3.2.1 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Recommendation of the Council on Principles concerning Transfrontier Pollution[96] - Paris, 14 November 1974

The Council,

Having regard to Article 5 b) of the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of 14th December 1960;

Considering that the protection and improvement of the environment are common objectives of Member Countries;

Considering that the common interests of countries concerned by transfrontier pollution should include them to cooperate more closely in a spirit of international solidarity and to initiate concerted action fro preventing and controlling transfrontier pollution;

Having regard to the Recommendations of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June 1972 and in particular those Principles of the Declaration on the Human Environment which are relevant to transfrontier pollution;

On the proposal of the Environment Committee:

I. Recommends that, without prejudice to future developments in international law and international co-operation in relation to transfrontier pollution, Member Countries should be guided in their environmental policy by the principles concerning transfrontier pollution contained in this Recommendation and its Annex, which is an integral part of this Recommendation.

II. Instructs the Environment Committee to prepare without delay, taking into account of the work undertaken by other international organizations, a programme of work designated to elaborate further these principles and to facilitate their practicable implementation.

III. Recommends Member Countries to cooperate in developing international law applicable to transfrontier pollution.

IV. Instructs the Environment Committee, within the framework of its mandate, to examine or investigate further, as the case may be, the issues related to the Principles of the Stockholm Declaration regarding responsibility and liability, taking into account the work undertaken by other international organizations, to submit a first report to the Council on its work by 1st March 1976 and to seek to formulate as soon as possible Draft Recommendations.

V. Instructs the Environment Committee to investigate further the issues concerning equal right to hearing, to formulate as soon as possible Draft Recommendations and to report to the Council on its work by 1st of July 1975.

Some principles concerning transfrontier pollution

Title A

This Annex sets forth some principles designed to facilitate the development of harmonized environmental policies with a view to solving transfrontier pollution problems. Their implementation should be based on a fair balance of rights and obligations among countries concerned by transfrontier pollution.

These principles should subsequently be supplemented and developed in the light of work undertaken by the OECD or other appropriate international organizations.

For the purpose of these principles, pollution means the introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy into the environment resulting in deleterious effects of such a nature as to endanger human health, harm living resources and ecosystems, and impair or interfere with amenities and other legitimate uses of the environment.

Unless otherwise specified, these principles deal with pollution originating in one country and having effects within other countries.

Title B
International solidarity[97]

1. Countries should define a concerted long-term policy for the protection and improvement of the environment in zones liable to be affected by transfrontier pollution.

Without prejudice to their rights and obligations under international law and in accordance with their responsibility under Principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration, countries should seek, as far as possible, an equitable balance of their rights and obligations as regards the zones concerned by transfrontier pollution.

In implementing this concerted policy, countries should among other things:

(a) take account of:

- levels of existing pollution and the present quality of the environment concerned;

- the nature and quantities of pollutants;

- the assimilative capacity of the environment, as established by mutual agreement by the countries concerned, taking into account the particular characteristics and use of the affected zone;

- activities at the source of pollution and activities and uses sensitive to such pollution;

- the situation, prospective use and development of the zones concerned from a socio-economic standpoint;

(b) define:

- environmental quality objectives and corresponding protective measures;

(c) promote:

- guidelines for a land-use planning policy consistent with the requirements both of environmental protection and socio-economic development;

(d) draw up and maintain up to date:

(i) list of particularly dangerous substances regarding which efforts should be made to eliminate polluting discharges, if necessary by stages, and

(ii) lists of substances regarding which polluting discharges should be subject to very strict control.

2. Pending the definition of such concerted long-term policies countries should, individually and jointly, take all appropriate measures to prevent and control transfrontier pollution, and harmonize as far as possible their relevant policies.

3. Countries should endeavour to prevent any increase in transfrontier pollution, including that stemming from new or additional substances and activities, and to reduce, and as far as possible eliminate any transfrontier pollution existing between them within time limits to be specified.

Title C
Principle of Non-Discrimination

4. Countries should initially base their action on the principle of non-discrimination, whereby:

(a) polluters causing transfrontier pollution should be subject to legal or statutory provisions no less severe than those which would apply for any equivalent pollution occurring within their country, under comparable conditions and in comparable zones, taking into account, when appropriate, the special nature and environmental needs of the zone affected;

(b) in particular, without prejudice to quality objectives or standards applying to transfrontier pollution mutually agreed upon by the countries concerned, the levels of transfrontier pollution entering into the zones liable to be affected by such pollution should not exceed those considered acceptable under comparable conditions and in comparable zones inside the country in which it originates, taking into account when appropriate, the special state of the environment in the affected country;

(c) any country whenever it applies the Polluter-Pays Principle should apply it to all polluters within this country without making any difference according to whether pollution affects this country or another country;

(d) persons affected by transfrontier pollution should be granted no less favourable treatment than persons affected by a similar pollution in the country from which such transfrontier pollution originates.

Title D
Principle of equal right of hearing[98]

5. Countries should make every effort to introduce, whore not already in existence, a system affording equal right of hearing, according to which:

(a) whenever a project, a new activity or a course of conduct may create a significant risk of transfrontier pollution and is investigated by public authorities, those who may be affected by such pollution should have the same rights of standing on judicial or administrative proceedings in the country where it originates as those of that country;

(b) whenever transfrontier pollution gives rise to damage in a country, those who are affected by such pollution should have the same rights of standing in judicial or administrative proceedings in the country where such pollution originates as those of that country, and they should be extended procedural rights equivalent to the rights extended to those of that country.

Title E
Principle of information and consultation[99]

6. Prior to the initiation in a country of works or undertakings which might create a significant risk of transfrontier pollution, this country should provide early information to other countries which are or may be affected. It should provide these countries with relevant information and data, the transmission of which is not prohibited by legislative provisions or prescriptions or applicable international conventions, and should invite their comments.

7. Countries should enter into consultation on an existing or foreseeable transfrontier pollution problem at the request of a country which is or may be directly affected and should diligently pursue such consultations on this particular problem over a reasonable period of time.

8. Countries should refrain from carrying out projects or activities which might create a significant risk of transfrontier pollution without first informing the countries which are or may be affected and, except in cases of extreme urgency, providing a reasonable amount of time in the light of circumstances for diligent consultation. Such consultations held in the best spirit of co-operation and good neighbourliness should not enable a country to unreasonably delay or to impede the activities or projects on which consultations are taking place.

Title F
Warning systems and incidents

9. Countries should promptly warn other potentially affected countries of any situation which may cause any sudden increase in the level of pollution in areas outside the country of origin of pollution, and take all appropriate steps to reduce the effects of any such sudden increase.

10. Countries should assist each other, wherever necessary, in order to prevent incidents which may result in transfrontier pollution, and to minimise, and if possible eliminate, the effects of such incidents, and should develop contingency plans to this end.

Title G
Exchange of scientific information, monitoring measures and research

11. Countries concerned should exchange all relevant scientific information and data on transfrontier pollution, when not prohibited by legislative provisions or prescriptions or by applicable international conventions. They should develop and adopt pollution measurement methods providing results which are compatible.

12. They should when appropriate, cooperate in scientific and technical research programmes inter alia for identifying the origin and pathways of transfrontier pollution, any damage caused and the best methods of pollution prevention and control, and should share all information and data thus obtained.

They should, where necessary, consider setting up jointly, in zones affected by transfrontier pollution, a permanent monitoring system or network for assessing the levels of pollution and the effectiveness of measures taken by them to reduce pollution.

Title H

13. Countries concerned by a particular problem of transfrontier pollution should consider the advantages of co-operation, by setting up international commissions or other bodies, or by strengthening existing institutions, in order to deal more effectively with particular aspects of such problems.

Such institutions could be authorised collect any data needed for a proper evaluation of the problem and its causes, and make to the countries concerned practical proposals for concerted efforts to combat transfrontier pollution. With the consent of the States concerned, they could also carry out any necessary additional investigations into the origin and degree of pollution, review the effectiveness of any pollution prevention and control measures which have been taken, and publish reports of their findings.

Title I

14. Should negotiations and other means of diplomatically settling disputes concerning transfrontier pollution fail, countries should have the opportunity to submit such a dispute to a procedure of legal settlement which is prompt, effective and binding.

Title J
International Agreements

15. Countries should endeavour to conclude, where necessary, bilateral or multilateral agreements for the abatement of transfrontier pollution in accordance with the above principles, to bring promptly into force any agreements which may already have been signed.

16. When negotiating new bilateral or multilateral agreements countries should, while taking into account the principles set out above, strive for the application of efficient pollution prevention and control measures in accordance with the Polluter-Pays Principle.

Such agreements could, inter alia, include provisions for practical procedures promoting the prompt and equitable compensation of persons affected by transfrontier pollution, and could also contain procedures facilitating the provision of information and consultation. Recommendation of the Council on the Control of Eutrophication of Waters[100] - Paris, 14 November 1974

The Council,

Having regard to Article 5 b) of the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of 14th December 1960;

Having regard to Recommendation 51 of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in relation to the protection of the quality of water resources, which are a primary need for social and economic development;

Having regard to the Recommendation of the Council of 26th May 1972 on Guiding Principles concerning International Economic Aspects of Environmental Policies [C(72)128];

Considering the importance of the accelerated degradation of the water environment due to the phenomenon of eutrophication resulting from man's activity;

Considering that the principal causes and mechanisms of eutrophication resulting from man's activity are now better understood and known to follow from the excessive input to surface waters of nutrient substances, such as phosphorous and nitrogen compounds;

Considering that States have a responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States;

Considering the need for continued co-operation on the monitoring of eutrophication and on exchange of experience in respect of control techniques;

Considering that the OECD Reports on Eutrophication Control:

- represent a valuable record of the acquired experience in Member countries in regard to technical possibilities for control of eutrophication, and a consensus on alternative strategies for control;

- show that, although there is no unique policy for eutrophication control, a number of steps can be taken. These steps directed at the control of nutrient substances include: treatment of municipal sewage and industrial effluents including nutrient removal; decreasing the contribution from various agricultural activities; and, where appropriate, control at source by product modification, as in the case of the replacement of phosphates in detergents;

Further noting the desirability, in certain circumstances, of harmonizing policies;

On the proposal of the Environment Committee:

I. Recommends that Governments of Member countries take measures to reduce to the extent required the pollution of surface waters resulting in eutrophication, with particular reference to the problem arising from the transfer of nutrient loaded waters across frontiers, taking into account the OECD conclusions on Eutrophication Control.

II. Invites the Governments of Member countries to inform the Organisation, within a year, on the measures taken pursuant to this Recommendation.

III. Instructs the Environment Committee to follow the implementation of this Recommendation and to report thereon to the Council. Recommendation of the Council on Equal Right of Access in relation to Transfrontier Pollution[101] - Paris, 11 May 1976

The Council,

Having regard to Article 5 (b) of the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of 14 December 1960;

Having regard to the Recommendation of the Council of 14 November 1974 on Principles concerning Transfrontier Pollution and, in particular, the principles of non-discrimination and equal right of hearing appearing in its Annex[102];

Having regard to the Declaration on environmental policy according to which the Governments of Member Countries “will cooperate towards solving transfrontier pollution problems in a spirit of solidarity and with the intention of further developing international law in this field”[103];

Considering the desire of Member Countries to strengthen their environmental policies relating to transfrontier pollution;

Having regard to the Report by the Environment Committee of 22 April 1976 on Equal Right of Access in Relation to Transfrontier Pollution[104];

Considering that equal right of access should facilitate the prevention and the solution of many transfrontier pollution problems, without prejudice to other means available, and that it constitutes one of the suitable channels for giving effect to the principle of non-discrimination;

On the proposal of the Environment Committee:

I. Recommends that Member Countries should endeavour to remove, possibly under conditions of reciprocity, the obstacles which may exist in their legal systems to the implementation of a system of equal right of access, the constituent elements of which are set out in the attached Annex which constitutes an integral part of this Recommendation.

II. Recommends that Member Countries, even when their legislation already implicitly provides for equal right of access, should introduce into their legislation and regulations relating to the environment any explicit provisions that may appear to them to be necessary to ensure a system of equal right of access.

III. Recommends that Member Countries should consider in relation to discussions carried out further to paragraph IV of this Recommendation, the advisability of concluding, within suitable geographical areas and on the basis of the particular characteristics of their legal systems, agreements on environmental protection designed to ensure the application of the principle of equal right of access and as far as it is conducive to the implementation of this principle, of the principle of non-discrimination.

IV. Instructs the Environment Committee to go deeper in its work on equal right of access, through a study of the principle of non-discrimination, as far as it is necessary for the implementation of the principle of equal right of access with a view to preparing common guidelines designed to assist the practical implementation of these principles, to report to the Council on its work by 31 December 1976 and to draw up as soon ma possible draft Recommendations or Decisions.


Constituent elements of a system of equal right of access

1. A system of equal right of access is made up of a act of rights recognised by a country in favour of persons who are affected or likely to be affected in their personal and/or proprietary interests by transfrontier pollution originating in such country and whose personal and/or proprietary interests are situated outside such Country (hereafter referred to as “persons affected by transfrontier pollution”).

2. Without prejudice to corresponding interstate procedures, the rights accorded to “persons affected by transfrontier pollution” should be equivalent to these accorded to persons whose personal and/or proprietary interests within the territory of the country where the transfrontier pollution originates are or may be affected under similar conditions by a same pollution, as regards:

(a) information concerning projects, new activities and courses of conduct which may give rise to a significant risk of pollution;

(b) access to information which the competent authorities make available to persons concerned;

(c) the participation in hearings and preliminary enquiries and the making of objections in respect of proposed decisions by the public authorities which could directly or indirectly lead to pollution;

(d) recourse to and standing in administrative and judicial procedures (including emergency procedures); in order to prevent pollution, or to have it abated and/or obtain compensation for the damage caused.

3. Concomitantly with the rights of “persons affected by transfrontier pollution”, the countries concerned by such pollution should take certain measures to make possible the exercise of the rights so recognised, in particular as regards the information and participation of “persons affected by transfrontier pollution” in hearings and enquiries prior to the taking of decisions. Such measures, which might be taken by countries where the pollution originate, would however gain in effectiveness if they were put into effect in co-operation with countries which are or may be affected by transfrontier pollution. Recommendation of the Council for the Implementation of a Regime of Equal Right of Access and Non-Discrimination in relation to Transfrontier Pollution[105] - Paris, 17 May 1977

The Council,

Having regard to Article 5(b) of the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of 14 December 1960;

Having regard to the Declaration on the Human Environment adopted in Stockholm in June 1972 and in particular Principles 21, 22, 23 and 24 of that Declaration;

Having regard to the Recommendations of the Council of 14 November 1974 on Principles concerning Transfrontier Pollution and of 11 May 1976 on Equal Right of Access in relation to Transfrontier Pollution[106] and without prejudice to such Recommendations;

Having regard to the Report by the Secretary-General of 18 March 1977 on the Implementation of a Regime of Equal Right of Access and Non-Discrimination in relation to Transfrontier Pollution[107];

Considering that the protection and improvement of the environment are common objectives of Member Countries;

Conscious that pollution originating in the area within the national jurisdiction of a State may have effects on the environment outside this jurisdiction;

Considering that the implementation of a regime of equal right of access and non-discrimination among Member Countries should lead to improved protection of the environment without prejudice to other channels available for the solution of transfrontier pollution problems;

On the proposal of the Environment Committee:

Recommends that Member Countries in regard to each other, take into account the principles concerning transfrontier pollution set forth in the Annex to this Recommendation, which is an integral part of it, in their domestic legislation possibly on the basis of reciprocity, notably regarding individual rights, and in bilateral or multilateral international agreements.


This Annex sets out a number of principles intended to promote the implementation between Member Countries of a regime of equal right of access and non-discrimination in matters of transfrontier pollution, while containing a fair balance of rights and obligations between Countries concerned by such pollution.

These principles do not prejudice any more favourable measures for the protection of the environment and of persons whose property, rights or interests are or could be affected by pollution the origin of which is situated within the area under the jurisdiction of a Member Country.

For the purposes of this Recommendation:

(a) “pollution” means any introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substance or energy into the environment resulting in deleterious effects of such a nature as to endanger human health, harm living resources and ecosystems, impair, amenities or interfere with other legitimate uses of the environment;

(b) “domestic pollution” means any intentional or unintentional pollution, the physical origin of which is situated wholly within the area under the national jurisdiction of one Country and which has effects within that area only;

(c) “transfrontier pollution” means any intentional or unintentional pollution whose physical origin is subject to, and situated wholly or in part within the area under, the national jurisdiction of one Country and which has effects in the area under the national jurisdiction of another Country;

(d) “Country” means any Member Country which participates in this Recommendation;

(e) “Country of origin” means any Country within which, and subject to the jurisdiction of which, transfrontier pollution originates or could originate in connection with activities carried on or contemplated in that Country;

(f) “exposed Country” means any Country affected by transfrontier pollution or exposed to a significant risk of transfrontier pollution;

(g) “Countries concerned” means any Country of origin of transfrontier pollution and any Country exposed to such pollution;

(h) “Regions concerned by transfrontier pollution” means any region of origin of transfrontier pollution in the Country of origin and any regions of the Country of origin and of any exposed Country where such pollution produces or might produce its effects;

(i) “persons” means any natural or legal person, either private or public;

(j) “regime of environmental protection” means any set of statutory and administrative measures related to the protection of the environment, including those concerning the property, rights or interests of persons.

Title A
Principles to facilitate the solution at inter-state level of transfrontier pollution problems

1. When preparing and giving effect to their policies affecting the environment, Countries should, consistent with their obligations and rights as regards the protection of the environment, take fully into consideration the effects of such policies on the environment of exposed Countries so as to protect such environment against transfrontier pollution.

2. With a view to improved protection of the environment, Countries should attempt by common agreement to:

(a) make their environmental policies mutually compatible, particularly those bearing on regions concerned by transfrontier pollution;

(b) bring closer together quality objectives and environmental standards adopted by Countries, apply them systematically to cases of transfrontier pollution and, where necessary, improve those already in force;

(c) work out additional rules of conduct of States to be applied in matters of transfrontier pollution.


(a) pending the implementation of the objectives laid down in paragraph 2, and without prejudice to more favourable measures taken in accordance with paragraphs 1 and 2 above, each Country should ensure that its regime of environmental protection does not discriminate between pollution originating from it which affects or is likely to affect the area under its national jurisdiction and pollution originating from it which affects or is likely to affect an exposed Country;

(b) thus, transfrontier pollution problems should be treated by the Country of origin in an equivalent way to similar domestic pollution problems occurring under comparable conditions in the Country of origin.

(c) in the event of difficulties arising between Countries concerned because the situations resulting from transfrontier pollution and domestic pollution are manifestly not comparable, for example as a result of uncoordinated land use policies in regions concerned by transfrontier pollution, those Countries should strive to arrive at a mutually agreed arrangement which ensures to the largest extent possible the application of the principle referred to in subparagraph (a) of this paragraph.

Title B
Legal protection of persons


(a) countries of origin should ensure that any person who has suffered transfrontier pollution damage or is exposed to a significant risk of tranfrontier pollution, shall at least receive equivalent treatment that afforded in the Country of origin in cases of domestic pollution and in comparable circumstances, to persons of equivalent condition or status.

(b) from a procedural standpoint, this treatment includes the right to take part in, or have resort to, all administrative and judicial procedures existing within the Country of origin, in order to prevent domestic pollution, to have it abated and/or to obtain compensation for the damage caused.

5. Where in spite of the existence of a liability ceiling instituted by an international agreement, there exists in a Country a system of additional compensation financed or administered by the public authorities, then such Country should not be required in the absence of reciprocal arrangements to grant entitlement to such additional compensation to victims of transfrontier pollution, but it should in advance inform the exposed Countries of the particular situation.


(a) where the domestic law of Countries permits private non-profit legal persons that are resident within their own territories, such as environmental defence associations, to commence proceedings to safeguard environmental interests which it is their aim to protect, those Countries should grant the same right for comparable matters to similar legal persons resident in exposed Countries, provided that the latter satisfy the conditions laid down for the former in the Country of origin.

(b) when some of the conditions concerning matters of form laid down in the County of origin cannot reasonably be imposed on legal persons resident in an exposed Country, these latter should be entitled to commence proceedings in the Country of origin if they satisfy comparable conditions.

7. When the law of a Country of origin permits a public authority to participate in administrative or judicial proceedings in order to safeguard general environmental interests, the Country of origin should consider, if its legal system allows it, providing, by means of international agreement if it deems it necessary, competent public authorities of exposed Countries with access to such proceedings.

Title C
Exchange of information and consultation


(a) the Country of origin, on its own initiative or at the request of an exposed Country, should communicate to the latter appropriate information concerning it in matters of transfrontier pollution or significant risk of such pollution and enter into consultations with it[108].

(b) in order to enable a Country of origin to implement adequately that principles set out in Title A of this Recommendation, each exposed Country should, on its own initiative or at the request of the Country of origin, supply appropriate information of mutual concern.

(c) each Country should designate one or more authorities entitled to receive directly information communicated under subparagraphs (a) and (b) of this paragraph.


(a) countries of origin should take any appropriate measures to provide persons exposed to a significant risk of transfrontier pollution with sufficient information to enable them to exercise in a timely manner the rights referred to in this Recommendation. As far as possible, such information should be equivalent to that provided in the Country of origin in cases of comparable domestic pollution.

(b) exposed Countries should designate one or more authorities which will have the duty to receive and the responsibility to disseminate such information within limits of time compatible with the exercise of existing procedures in the Country of origin.

10. Countries should encourage and facilitate regular contacts between representatives designated by them at regional and/or local levels in order to examine such transfrontier pollution matters as may arise. Recommendation of the Council on Water Management Policies and Instruments[109] - Paris, 5 April 1978

The Council,

Having regard to Article 5 b) of the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of 14th December 1960;

Having regard to the Recommendations of the Council of 14th November 1974 on Strategies for Specific Water Pollutants Control [C(74)221] and on Principles concerning Transfrontier Pollution [C(74)224];

Having regard to the Recommendation of the Council of 26th May 1972 on Guiding Principles concerning International Economic Aspects of Environmental Policies [C(72)128];

Having regard to the principles of the Stockholm Declaration on Human Environment, and notably principles 21 and 22;

Considering that:

- in Member Countries, the total expenditure allocated for water management is considerable in absolute terms and can be of the order of 1 per cent of GNP;

- regional and national development schemes are often limited by water resources availability;

- planning is an essential tool of water management and must be harmonized with plans and developments in other sectors;

- in Member Countries, waste water treatment facilities are a major step in water pollution control, requiring a high capital investment and significant operating cost, and yet many of these facilities frequently operate much below design efficiency;

- the main objectives of water management are: to protect water resources against pollution and excessive use; to preserve the water environment and ecology; to safeguard and improve the hydrological cycle in general; and to provide adequate water supply, in quality and quantity, for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes, account being taken of long-term demands.

Recommends that,

Member Countries in their national and, where possible, their international water management policies take into account the following principles:

1. Water resources, both surface (lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters) and underground, should be managed on the basis of long-term water management plans, so as to follow an integrated approach regarding all relevant aspects of water quantity and quality, abstraction and discharge, supply and protection.

2. Authorities should promote the rational and equitable allocation of water resources among all users by applying appropriate regulatory and economic instruments including licensing systems, and taking into account a hierarchy of real requirements in terms of quality and quantity as well as any potential effects on the environment.

3. Highest priority should be given to reserving and protecting high quality waters for potable use where there is either present or potential demand for this purpose. There is a basic need to try to preserve an acceptable level of aquatic life.

4. River basin oriented management should be encouraged as providing an effective solution to water problems beyond the scope of local management, and where advisable this should be considered in an international framework. Adequate co-ordination of the regional approach is required at a state and national level within the framework of a national water management policy.

5. An appropriate combination of regulatory and economic instruments (for example standards and charges) should be applied so as to provide continuing incentive for water users to control both pollution and wastage of water resources. Charges for water abstraction and waste water discharge should thus be set at a sufficient level to have a significant incentive effect, and their proceeds should be allocated to water resources development and pollution control.

6. Pollution control measures should be applied as close to the source as possible. Particularly strict regulatory, economic and technical controls should be enforced for certain categories of hazardous pollutants, on the basis of their ecologically significant characteristics, especially toxicity, persistence and bio-accumulation, with a view to preventing their dispersion into the environment.

7. Authorities should ensure that the water pollution control measures they implement do not lead to uncontrolled pollution transfers to other water resources or to soil or air systems.

8. Assessment of water and effluent quality should not be limited to a few classical measurements such as BOD, COD and suspended solids, but should also include the relevant physical, chemical, biological and toxicity parameters. Effluent components should be expressed not only in terms of concentrations, but also in terms of total amounts of pollutants discharged. Monitoring is an essential tool of pollution control and should be developed adequately.

9. All the required financial, managerial and technical measurements to ensure that waste water treatment plants are always operated in an efficient manner, should be urgently adopted.

10. Authorities should facilitate public information and participation to promote more informed decision-making and to enlist public support for proposed activities.

Explanatory notes to the recommendation on water management policies and instruments

1. Underground and surface waters constitute a closely inter-related hydrologic system which should be managed as a single entity in order to prevent uncontrolled pollution and depletion of these resources. In particular, all quantitative and qualitative aspects and activities of abstraction and discharge are so interdependent that they should be managed in an integrated manner and should not be dissociated; thus they should whenever possible be under the same authority and fully co-ordinated. In certain countries, traditional practices and structures such as water rights and similar privileges have built up attitudes and customs which are generally incompatible with a modern and rational water policy, and should be progressively amended.

2. When demand on resources is high, an order of priority should be established, and especially a hierarchy of the different quality requirements. Such a rational allocation of water entails good knowledge of the qualitative and quantitative requirements of the various uses as well as the environmental role of the resource. Existing water allocation procedures still frequently lack a competent rational basis. Pre-existing settlements and different forms of water rights commonly confer to certain users the right or possibility to abstract and use at will the water resources, at the expense of the other users. Furthermore, high quality waters, such as underground waters, are frequently abstracted in large quantities for purposes which do not require this quality, whilst very demanding requirements, such as potable water, increasingly have to utilise low quality raw waters. Such an irrational use of limited water resources is clearly unacceptable. The solution of these problems is mainly a legal one and many countries are adopting compulsory licensing systems under the control of water authorities.

3. In large urban and industrial areas, polluted waters are increasingly being used for potable water supply purposes; water treatment is then becoming more and more costly, whilst final quality after treatment is frequently unsatisfactory from the taste, odour and health viewpoints. These problems are generally due to large numbers of trace pollutants which pass in solution or fine particulate form through treatment plants, and cannot be removed, or are formed during the treatment itself (halogenated organics formed during chlorination). Under present technological and financial conditions of operation of the treatment plants, the situation is not likely to be substantially improved unless special efforts are made to greatly enhance the quality of the raw waters themselves. As recovery of polluted resources in many cases is likely to take considerable time, particular attention should be given to a reallocation of waters on a regional basis, reserving only the best quality for drinking purposes.

In recent decades, many OECD countries have seen a considerable deterioration in the quality of their water resources and natural environment. At the same time natural waters, including estuaries and coastal waters, have been in increasing demand for recreation and amenity purposes such as bathing, fishing, boating, etc., which represent the most popular outdoor activities in OECD countries. It is important to maintain adequate and varied fish populations in surface waters for their value as a natural resource and their significance in the ecological equilibrium. Further, satisfactory fishlife indicates, and can be used as a monitor for the quality of the aquatic environment.

4. An operational structure, organised on a hydrological river basin system is particularly favourable for water management, because the resource being managed has rationally defined hydrological boundaries; water supply and demand can be more realistically balanced, and pollution controlled more effectively. Such systems have already been adopted successfully in an increasing number of Member Countries. The national water management structure should consist of a limited number of sizeable regions which should be large enough to justify the employment of the multi-disciplinary skills necessary for effective modern management. However, certain Member Countries, either for geographical, historical or administrative reasons, may find it difficult to change radically to such a system and may develop flexible systems which adapt the pre-existing administrative framework to an overall river basin concept.

In order to co-ordinate the regional basin management authorities and to harmonize their policies, there should be a co-ordinating body responsible for water policy at a state and national level. Further, in order to balance water policies within the framework of other national priorities and to resolve potential conflicts, this body should be in close liaison with the various Ministries which may have common interests in water matters. This body would also play an effective role in the harmonization of water management policies at an international level. As already practised in various Member Countries, the tasks of this body may lie with the Minister in charge of the environment, or the Minister for the Environment if such a ministry exists.

5. There is a permanent conflict between the competing requirements of the various water users, and also between the maximum exploitation of the resource and its conservation for its environmental functions. In general, it is not very likely that on its own a single instrument will solve satisfactorily the complex management problems particularly in densely populated and industrial river basins. A judicious choice of complementary instruments, both regulatory and economic, will generally permit more efficient management by responsible authorities at a minimum cost for society. These instruments should normally be applied simultaneously in order to provide mutual backing. In certain cases, a progressive approach for both economic and regulatory instruments may be appropriate in order to reach the desirable level of control without economic disturbance.

Regulatory and economic instruments should be adapted to have a continuing incentive for more rational utilisation of the resource, by saving on consumption and decreasing pollution; this is a fundamental element of dynamic water management. Such a policy is also likely to constitute a constant stimulus to progress in water technology and research. In principle, instruments based on a flat rate or “lump sum” arrangement should be avoided, for in practice they are an inducement for uncontrolled abstraction and pollution. Effluent standards should be set for discharges from municipal treatment plants and from different industrial sectors. Charges, if fixed at a sufficiently high rate, have a good incentive effect, and can be used as a helpful complement to regulations by reinforcing their efficiency and providing greater flexibility. Charges moreover generate an essential income which may provide water management authorities with useful financial capability to support, for the benefit of the community, pollution control and water resource development projects which are considered most appropriate and urgent.

6. Prevention of pollution at source is by far the most effective and safest means of control. This can be carried out, in relation to each case considered, by different strategies, e.g. by banning of undesirable processes and products and by replacement with less polluting ones; by the use of closed systems including recycling; by the early segregation of industrial effluents with application of specific treatment, etc. Furthermore, early prevention and control procedures can considerably diminish the risk of accidental spills. In effect, the later the stage of control the less effective it is likely to be due to wider dispersion of the contaminants. Experience shows that diffusion of pollutants with dilution and mixing makes their removal in general more costly and uncertain and increases the risk of synergistic effects.

Particularly strict measures of control should be enforced for certain categories of hazardous pollutants with a view to preventing their dispersion into the environment. This applies especially to toxic substances which are very persistent in the environment and/or subject to bioaccumulation in living organisms and concentration through the food chain. Examples include heavy metals (cadmium, mercury, lead, etc.) and their organic compounds; halogenated organic compounds (organochlorines in general, PCBs, DDT); radioactive substances, etc. The strict control of these substances must, in general, take place at their initial stages of occurrence: i.e. their production, importation, sale and use, as control in later stages proves to be practically impossible. Possibilities range from complete banning to restriction to limited uses. Finally, controlled regeneration or disposal such as is often carried out in specialised centres for treatment of toxic wastes should be ensured.

7. Experience shows that the polluter will, in general, attempt to discharge waste where the operation is least costly and the controls less stringent (e.g. direct discharge of effluents through ground waters; incineration with generation of air pollution, etc.). In order to combat uncontrolled discharge and undesirable transfers of pollution, authorities responsible for environmental protection should ensure that economic and regulatory instruments and controls, both for the different types of water resources and for other media (air, soil), are comprehensive and correctly balanced.

8. Water quality parameters have hitherto mainly been limited to measurements of oxidisable matter (BOD, COD) and suspended solids. These measurements, although very useful in the past, are now recognised as being insufficiently specific to monitor the increasing quantity and variety of pollutants, e.g. toxic and persistent pollutants (including radioactive substances); thermal pollution and microbiological (including viral) pollution. Where this is not already done, these additional pollution parameters should be regularly taken into account in evaluating water quality and effluent discharges, and should be incorporated into the framework of the regulatory and economic instruments. Often the technical capability for measuring and monitoring these additional elements of pollution will have to be considerably improved. The relative importance of these different parameters may also vary in relation to the functions of the receiving waters (drinking water, fishing and recreation, etc.). Strict monitoring of progress towards water policy objectives should be regularly carried out.

In certain countries, parameters for effluent discharge are still specified only in terms of concentrations (e.g. grams of pollutants per litre or cubic metre of effluent). This is useful in preventing a “Shock effect” in rivers where discharges might otherwise exceed toxicity limits. Nevertheless, this is clearly insufficient and encourages easy circumvention of pollution control regulations by diluting the effluent. It is thus fundamental that each parameter be expressed also in terms of (daily or monthly) “total discharge” and that total flows of effluents be indicated. Further, for industrial effluents, the total discharge should not only be expressed as a function of time but also as a function of industrial production. This latter means of expressing the amount of pollution can rather easily be checked in relation to the technology used and also indicates the degree of sophistication of treatment being applied by industry.

9. For a number of reasons waste water treatment plants are frequently operated much below design standards. Common problems include inadequate operating funds, mismanagement, and poorly trained personnel. These treatment plants, which are a fundamental tool of pollution control, require high capital investment. Consequently, poor operation means both very unsatisfactory pollution abatement and the wastage of an important investment. Fundamental guidelines which could help reduce the problems include:

- recognition that regular and continuous financing is absolutely necessary to ensure proper operation throughout the life of the plant. The necessary provisions should be formally planned at the initial investment stage and guaranteed by a strict financing scheme. For instance, an appropriate charge levied at municipal level from all users proportionally to abstraction and discharge, might guarantee, where necessary, this regular and sufficient financing.

- adequate management of treatment plants requires operators with suitable technical qualification. So far this has not always been the case. The skill of operators should be improved by the organisation of regular training programmes leading to professional certification; this certification should become compulsory for all operators. Moreover, it would be desirable that the operation and inspection of treatment plants become progressively the responsibility of a specially trained corps of inspectors and operators. As a first step to this permanent arrangement, inspections should be carried out at all plants at frequent intervals.

- a frequent cause of deficiency in municipal plants is their overloading and the poisoning of the biological treatment of domestic sewage by toxic effluents from industrial plants. Industrial sewers likely to contain regularly or accidentally such toxic pollutants capable of affecting treatment should not be directly connected to municipal treatment plants unless they receive rigorous pre-treatment.

10. Action needs to be taken to familiarise the public and water users with water management problems. This action ranges from straightforward campaigns for public information to open discussion forums in which the public can actively participate. The categories of people concerned with water problems are the decision-makers, and expert advisers (e.g. hydrologists, engineers, chemists, economists) who constitute “management”, and the water “users” comprising the general public, industrial and agricultural consumers. There is a need within water management organisations for some formalised machinery for the exchange of views between all categories.

3.2.2 Pan-American Union, Organization of American States Declaration concerning the Industrial and Agricultural Use of International Rivers[110] - Montevideo, 24 December 1933

The Seventh International Conference of American States declares:

1. In the case that, in order to exploit the hydraulic power of international waters for industrial or agricultural purposes, it may be necessary to make studies with a view to their utilization, the States on whose territories the studies are to be carried on, if not willing to make them directly, shall facilitate by all means the making of such studies on their territories by the other interested States and for its account.

2. The States have the exclusive right to exploit, for industrial or agricultural purposes, the margin which is under their jurisdiction, of the waters of international rivers. This right, however, is conditioned in its exercise upon the necessity of not injuring the equal right due to the neighbouring State over the margin under its jurisdiction. In consequence, no State may, without the consent of the other riparian State, introduce into water courses of an international character, for the industrial or agricultural exploitation of their waters, any alteration which may prove injurious to the margin of the other interested State.

3. In the cases of damage referred to in the foregoing article an agreement of the Parties shall always be necessary. When damages capable of repair are concerned, the works may only be executed after adjustment of the incident regarding indemnity, reparation or compensation of the damages, in accordance with the procedures indicated below.

4. The same principles shall be applied to successive rivers as those established in Articles 2 and 3, with regard to contiguous rivers.

5. In no case either where successive or where contiguous rivers are concerned shall the works of industrial or agricultural exploitation performed cause injury to the free navigation thereof.

6. In international rivers having a successive course the works of industrial or agricultural exploitation performed shall not injure free navigation on them but, on the contrary, try to improve it insofar as possible. In this case, the State or States planning the construction of the works shall communicate to the others the result of the studies made with regard to navigation, to the sole end that they may take cognisance thereof.

7. The works which a State plans to perform in international waters shall be previously announced to the other riparian or co-jurisdictional States. The announcement shall be accompanied by the necessary technical documentation in order that other interested States may judge the scope of such works, and by the name of the technical expert or experts who are to deal, if necessary, with the international side of the matter.

8. The announcement shall be answered within a period of three months, with or without observations. In the former case, the answer shall indicate the name of the technical expert or experts to be charged by the respondent with dealing with the technical experts of the applicant, and shall propose the date and place for constituting the Mixed Technical Commission of technical experts from both sides to pass judgement on the case. The Commission shall act within a period of six months, and if within this period no agreement has been reached, the members shall set forth their respective opinion, inform the governments thereof.

9. In such cases, and if it is not possible to reach an agreement through diplomatic channels, recourse shall be had to such procedure of conciliation as may have been adopted by the Parties beforehand, or, in the absence thereof, to the procedure of any of the multilateral treaties or conventions in effect in America. The tribunal shall act within a period of three months, which may be extended, and shall take into account, in the award, the proceedings of the Mixed Technical Commission.

10. The Parties shall have a month to state whether they accept the conciliatory award or not. In the latter case and at the request of the interested Parties the disagreement shall then be submitted to arbitration, the respective tribunal being constituted by the procedure provided in the Second Hague Convention for the peaceful solution of international conflicts.




Venezuela - The delegation of Venezuela desires to record:

(1) That, with respect to the industrial and agricultural use of international rivers, Venezuela subjects the regulation of this matter to existing partial agreements previously entered into with neighbouring States.


Mexico - The delegation of Mexico records expressly that it makes a general reservation on the resolutions of the Conference regarding the following:

First: Industrial and agricultural use of international rivers.




United States of America - 1. The delegation of the United States of America, believing that the Declaration on the Industrial and Agricultural Use of International Rivers is not sufficiently comprehensive in scope to be properly applicable to the particular problems involved in the adjustment of its rights in the international rivers in which it is interested, refrains from giving approval to (that) Declaration. Inter-American Economic and Social Council, Resolution 24-M/66 on Control and Economic Utilization of Hydrographic Basins and Streams in Latin America[113] - Buenos Aires, 1966

The Inter-American Economic and Social Council, at its fourth annual session, adopted resolution 24-M/66, which reads as follows:


Control and better utilization of the hydrographic basins and streams that, in various regions of Latin America, make up a part of the common patrimony of the member countries of the Alliance for Progress will help to speed up the integration and multiply the potential capacity for development of those countries.

The Fourth Annual Meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council at the Ministerial Level


To the member countries of the Alliance for Progress that, with the technical and financial assistance of international agencies, they begin or continue joint studies looking toward the control and economic utilization of the hydrographic basins and streams of the region of which they are part, for the purpose of promoting, through multinational projects, their utilization for the common good, in transportation, the production of electric power, irrigation works, and other uses, and particularly in order to control and prevent damage such as periodically occurs as the result of rises in the level of their waters and consequent floods.

3.2.3 Council of Europe European Water Charter[114]- Strasbourg, 1967


The Committee of Ministers,

Having regard to Recommendation 436 (1965) of the Consultative Assembly on Fresh Water Pollution Control in Europe;

Bearing in mind resolution 10 (XXI) (1965) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe containing the ECE declaration of policy on water pollution control in Europe; and also the international standards for drinking water, particularly the European standards established by the World Health Organization;

Persuaded that the advance of modern civilization leads in certain cases to an increasing deterioration in our natural heritage;

Conscious that water holds a place of prime importance in that natural heritage;

Considering that the demand for water is increasing, largely because of the rapid development of industrialization in the main urban centres of Europe, and that steps must be taken for the qualitative and quantitative conservation of water resources;

Considering, furthermore, that collective action on a European scale on water problems is necessary and that a Water Charter constitutes an effective instrument for creating a better understanding of these problems;

Adopts and proclaims the principles of this Charter, prepared by the European Committee for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources of the Council of Europe, which reads as follows:

I. There is no life without water. It is a treasure indispensable to all human activity.

Water falls from the atmosphere to the earth mainly in the form of rain and snow. Streams, rivers, glaciers and lakes are the principal channels of drainage towards the oceans. During its cycle, water is retained by the soil, vegetation and animals. It returns to the atmosphere principally by means of evaporation and plant transpiration. Water is the first need of man, animals and plants.

Water constitutes nearly two-thirds of man's weight and about nine-tenths of that of plants.

Man depends on it for drinking, food supplies and washing, as a source of energy, as an essential material for production as a medium for transport, and as an outlet for recreation which modern life increasingly demands.

II. Fresh water resources are not inexhaustible. It is essential to conserve, control, and whenever possible, increase them.

The population explosion and the rapidly expanding needs of modern industry and agriculture are making increasing demands on water resources. It will be impossible to meet these demands and to achieve rising standards of living, unless each one of us regards water as a precious commodity to be preserved and used wisely.

III. To pollute water is to harm man and other living creatures which are dependent on water.

Water in nature is a medium containing beneficial organisms which help to keep it clean. If we pollute the water, we risk destroying those organisms, disrupting this self-purification process, and perhaps modifying the living medium unfavourably and irrevocably.

Surface and underground waters should be preserved from pollution.

Any important reduction of quantity and deterioration of quality of water, whether running or still, may do harm to man and other living creatures.

IV. The quality of water must be maintained at levels suitable for the use to be made of it and, in particular, must meet appropriate public health standards.

These quality levels may vary according to the different uses of water, namely food supplies, domestic, agricultural and industrial needs, fisheries and recreation. Nevertheless, since all life on earth in its infinite variety depends upon the manifold qualities of water, arrangements should be made to ensure as far as possible that water retains its natural properties.

V. When used water is returned to a common source it must not impair the further uses, both public and private, to which the common source will be put.

Pollution is a change, generally man-made, in the quality of water which makes it unusable or dangerous for human consumption, industry, agriculture, fishing, recreation, domestic animals and wildlife.

The discharge of residue (wastage) or of used water which causes physical, chemical, organic, thermal or radioactive pollution, must not endanger public health and must take into account the capacity of the receiving waters to assimilate (by dilution or self-purification) any waste matter discharged. The social and economic aspects of water-treatment methods are of great importance in this connection.

VI. The maintenance of an adequate vegetation cover, preferably forest land, is imperative for the conservation of water resource.

It is necessary to conserve vegetation cover, preferably forests, and wherever it has disappeared to reconstitute it as quickly as possible.

The conservation of forests is a factor of major importance for the stabilisation of drainage basins and their water regime. As well as their economic value, forests provide opportunities for recreation.

VII. Water resources must be assessed.

Fresh water that can be put to good use represents less than one per cent of the water on our planet and it is distributed in very unequal fashion.

It is essential to know surface and underground water resources, bearing in mind the water cycle, the quality of water and its utilisation.

Assessment, in this context, involves the survey, recording and appraisal of water resources.

VIII. The wise husbandry of water resources must be planned by the appropriate authorities.

Water is a precious resource requiring planning which combines short- and long-term needs.

A viable water policy is needed, which should include various measures for the conservation, flow-control and distribution of water resources. Furthermore, maintenance of quality and quantity calls for development and improvement of utilisation, recycling and purification techniques.

IX. Conservation of water calls for intensified scientific research, training of specialists and public information services.

Research with regard to water in general and waste water in particular should be encouraged in every way possible. Means of providing information should be increased and international exchanges facilitated; at the same time, the technical and biological training of qualified personnel is necessary in the various fields of activity involved.

X. Water is a common heritage, the value of which must be recognised by all. Everyone has the duty to use water carefully and economically.

Each human being is a consumer and user of water and is therefore responsible to other users. To use water thoughtlessly is to misuse our natural heritage.

XI. The management of water resources should be based on their natural basins rather than on political and administrative boundaries.

Surface waters flow away down the steepest slopes, converging to form watercourses. A river and its tributaries are like a many-branched tree, and they serve an area known as a watershed or drainage basin.

Within a drainage basin, all uses of surface and underground waters are interdependent and should be managed bearing in mind their interrelationship.

XII. Water knows no frontiers; as a common resource it demands international co-operation.

International problems arising from the use of water should be settled by mutual agreement between the States concerned, to conserve the quality and quantity of water. Consultative Assembly, Recommendation 629 (1971) on the Pollution of the Rhine Water-Table[115] - Strasbourg, 22 January 1971

The Assembly,

1. Having regard of the report on the pollution of the Rhine valley water-table presented by its Committee on Regional Planning and Local Authorities (Doc. 2904);

2. Recalling its earlier views on fresh water pollution control, in particular Recommendation 436 (1965) calling for a Water Charter and Recommendation 555 (1969) on the conclusion of a draft European Convention on the protection of fresh water against pollution;

3. Welcoming the adoption by the Committee of Ministers of Resolution (70) 30 on 24 October 1970, on planning of the management of water resources, while regretting that this resolution makes no mention of the problems peculiar to water-tables;

4. Considering that the efficacity of fresh water pollution control depends on the acceptance of certain principles by as many countries as possible, and at least by the countries of Western Europe, and in general calls for concerted action within a given drainage basin in accordance with the eleventh principle of the European Water Charter;

5. Reaffirming that most environment problems, including water pollution, are of an international character;

6. Noting in this connection that the Rhine valley water-table is not only the most important fresh water reservoir in Europe but also the indivisible asset of a number of European countries;

7. Noting that, although it is not immediately apparent to the public, pollution increasingly threatens this vital fresh water reserve;

8. Noting further that the management of this water reserve and its safeguarding against pollution are tasks whose effective accomplishment can only be ensured jointly by all the countries bordering on it: Germany, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands;

9. Emphasising the urgent need for such co-operation, which is a proof of both the solidarity existing between frontier regions and the practical nature of the problems calling for common action.

10. Recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

(a) invite the governments concerned to institute such co-operation in regard to the Rhine valley water-table and to refer the question to the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning through their Committee of Senior Officials, in accordance with the Bonn resolution which urges, inter alia, co-ordinated action in frontier areas with a view to “the tracing of courses of pollution whose effects extend beyond the frontier”;

(b) initiate concrete action on their own Resolution (68) 36 concerning studies on groundwater deposits, adopted in November 1968 by taking the following decisions, which are calculated to promote international co-operation in regard to research into pollution control and to lead to joint management of the Rhine valley water-table:

(i) to invite the governments directly concerned to initiate such co-operation among themselves and to entrust the “Institut de mécanique des fluides” in Strasbourg with the task of co-ordinating research work;

(ii) to authorise the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe to grant his patronage and administrative aid to such an international institute for co-ordination and research in regard to the Rhine valley water-table, as a first step towards co-operation between the Council of Europe and technical bodies specialising in research into surface and underground water resources;

(iii) to instruct the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe to seek ways and means of co-operating with the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine against Pollution;

(iv) to transmit this recommendation and the report of the Committee on Regional Planning and Local Authorities (Doc. 2904) to:

- the Committee on Co-operation in Municipal and Regional Matters, with the request that it be taken into account by the latter body in its study of transfrontier co-operation, a subject included in its work programme;

- the European Committee for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, for the attention of its Ad Hoc Study Group on Water Pollution;

- the European Ministerial Conference on the Environment which will be held in Vienna in 1972. Consultative Assembly, Recommendation 1052 (1987) on the Pollution of the Rhine River[116] - Strasbourg, 29 January 1987

The Council of Europe:

(a) supports the appeal to the Committee of Ministers by the Secretary-General and the President of the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe for a speedy and final adoption of the draft convention on the protection of international watercourses against pollution (section 16);

(b) requests the signatory states to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities to instruct their competent authorities to fully implement its provisions, in particular with regard to an early warning and information system for all the populations concerned (section 17);

(c) recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

(i) examine the problems of international liability linked to the occurrence of transfrontier disasters of this kind, and take all legal action necessary to secure both the safeguard of the environment and the maintenance of a high-quality water supply;

(ii) consider the drafting of a European convention on the protection of the environment, providing effective international control and stating strict rules to establish the right to a healthy environment, whilst stressing the “polluter pays” principle even at the international level;

(iii) urge the Governments of Member States to intensify research at the national and European level regarding the short- and long-term effects of river pollution on fish life and, through consumption, on human health;

(iv) invite the Governments of Member States to review most urgently their legislation, in particular with regard to the production, storage, transport and disposal of chemicals, and to report to the Council of Europe, so that common measures can be adopted at the European level;

(v) explore the possibility of declaring certain particularly affected rivers and seas, among them the Rhine estuary and adjacent parts of the North Sea, as “special protected areas” requiring particularly stringent anti-pollution measures (section 18).

3.2.4 International Conference on Water and the Environment The Dublin Statement[117] - Dublin, 31 January 1992



The Action Agenda


Resolving water conflicts

The most appropriate geographical entity for the planning and management of water resources is the river basin, including surface and groundwater. Ideally, the effective integrated planning and development of transboundary river or lake basins has similar institutional requirements to a basin entirely within one country. The essential function of existing international basin organizations is one of reconciling and harmonizing the interests of riparian countries, monitoring water quantity and quality, development of concerted action programmes, exchange of information, and enforcing agreements.

In the coming decades, management of international watersheds will greatly increase in importance. A high priority should therefore be given to the preparation and implementation of integrated management plans, endorsed by all affected governments and backed by international agreements.

3.2.5 Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee Draft Proposition on the Law of International Rivers[118] - New Delhi, 18 January 1973

Proposition I

The general rules set forth in these propositions are applicable to the use of waters of an international drainage basin except as may be provided otherwise by convention, agreement or binding custom among the basin states.

Proposition II

1. An international drainage basin is a geographical area extending over two or more states determined by the watershed limits of the system of waters, including surface and underground waters, flowing into a common terminus.

2. A “basin state” is a state the territory of which includes a portion of an international drainage basin.

Proposition III

1. Each basin state is entitled, within its territory, to a reasonable and equitable share in the beneficial uses of the waters of an international drainage basin.

2. What is a reasonable and equitable share is to be determined by the interested basin states by considering all the relevant factors in each particular case.

3. relevant factors which are to be considered include in particular:

(a) the economic and social needs of each basin state, and the comparative costs of alternative means of satisfying such needs;

(b) the degree to which the needs of a basin state may be satisfied without causing substantial injury to a co-basin state;

(c) the past and existing utilization of the waters;

(d) the population dependent on the waters of the basin in each basin state;

(e) the availability of other water resources;

(f) the avoidance of unnecessary waste in the utilization of waters of the basin;

(g) the practicability of compensation to one or more of the co-basin states as a means of adjusting conflicts among uses;

(h) the geography of the basin;

(i) the hydrology of the basin;

(j) the climate affecting the basin.

Proposition IV

1. Every basin state shall act in good faith in the exercise of its rights on the waters of an international drainage basin in accordance with the principles governing good neighbourly relations.

2. A basin state may not therefore undertake works or utilizations of the waters of an international drainage basin which would cause substantial damage to another basin state unless such works or utilizations are approved by the states likely to be adversely affected by them or are otherwise authorized by a decision of a competent international court or arbitral commission.

Proposition V

In determining preferences among competing uses by different co-basin states of the waters of an international drainage basin, special weight should be given to uses which are the basis of life, such as the consumptive uses.

Proposition VI

A basin state may not be denied the present reasonable use of the waters of an international drainage basin to reserve for a co-basin state a future use of such waters.

Proposition VII

1. An existing reasonable use may continue in operation unless the factors justifying its continuance are outweighed by other factors leading to the conclusion that it be modified or terminated so as to accommodate a competing but more important incompatible use.


(a) a we that is in fact operational is deemed to have been an existing use from the time of the initiation of construction directly related to the use or, where such construction is not required, the undertaking of comparable acts of actual implementation;

(b) such a use continues to be an existing use until such time as it is discontinued with the intention that it be abandoned.

3. A use will not be deemed an existing use if at the time of becoming operational it is incompatible with an already existing reasonable use.

Proposition VIII

1. Consistent with the principle of equitable utilization of the waters of an international drainage basin, a state must prevent any new form of water pollution or any increase in the degree of existing water pollution in an international drainage basin, which would cause substantial damage in the territory of a co-basin state, regardless of whether or not such pollution originates within the territory of the state.

2. Water pollution, as used in this proposition, refers to any detrimental change resulting from human conduct in the natural composition, content or quality of the waters of an international drainage basin.

Proposition IX

Any act or omission on the part of a basin state in violation of the foregoing rules may give rise to state responsibility under international law. The state responsible shall be required to cease the wrongful conduct and compensate the injured co-basin state for the injury that has been caused to it, unless such injury is confined to a minor inconvenience compatible with good neighbourly relations.

Proposition X

A state which proposes a change of the previously existing uses of the waters of an international drainage basin that might seriously affect utilization of the waters by another co-basin state, must first consult with the other interested co-basin states. In case agreement is not reached through such consultation, the states concerned should seek the advice of a technical expert or commission. If this does not lead to agreement, resort should be had to the other peaceful methods provided for in Article 33 of the United Nations Charter and, in particular, to international arbitration and adjudication.

[96] Text in: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, doc. C(74)224.
[97] The Delegate for Spain reserved his position on Title B.
[98] The Delegate for Spain reserved his position on Title D.
[99] The Delegate for Spain reserved his position on Title E.
[100] Text in: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, doc. C(74)220.
[101] Text in: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, doc. C(76)55 Final.
[102] C (74)224.
[103] C/M (74)26 (Final), Annex.
[104] C(76)55.
[105] Text in: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development doc. C(77)28 (Final).
[106] C(74)224 and C(76)55 (Final).
[107] Appendix I to C(77)28.
[108] The Delegate for Spain reserved his position on the last six words of paragraph 8 (a).
[109] Text in: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, doc. C(78)4 (Final).
[110] Text in: Pan American Union, Seventh International Conference of American States, Plenary Sessions, Minutes and antecedents, Montevideo, 1933, p. 114.
[111] Text in: The Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, The International Conferences of American States, First Supplement, 1933-1940, Wash., D.C. 1940, pp. 105 and 106.
[112] Text in: The Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, The International Conferences of American States, First Supplement, 1933-1940, Wash., D.C. 1940, pp. 105 and 106.
[113] Text in: Final Report of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council, Vol. I (OEA/Ser. H/XII-11), Washington, D.C. Pan-American Union, 1966, p. 48.
[114] Text in: Legal problems relating to the non navigational water-courses: Supplementary Report by the Secretary-General, Doc. A/CN.4/274, United Nations, Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1974, Vol. II, pp. 342-343. Text of the European Water Charter was adopted by the Consultative Assembly on 22 April 1967 (Recommendation 493 (1967) ) and by the Committee of Ministers on 26 May 1967 (Resolution (67) 10). The European Water Charter was proclaimed in Strasbourg on 6 May 1968.
[115] Text in: Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, Report on the Pollution of the Rhine Water-Table (doc. 2904).
[116] Text in: Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, Report on the Pollution of the Rhine River.
[117] Text in: International Conference on Water and the Environment. The Dublin Statement and Report of the Conference, 26-31 January 1992.
[118] Text in Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee, Report of the Fourteenth Session, held in New Delhi (10-18 January 1973), pp. 7-14.

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