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This Legislative Study constitutes a compendium of documents, often not easily available, on the law governing the development and management of international watercourses, i.e., rivers, lakes and underground aquifers, forming or traversed by the international border between or among sovereign States. It updates and replaces “The Law of International Water Resources” by Mr. D.A. Caponera, then Chief of the FAO Legislation Branch, published as FAO Legislative Study No. 23 in 1980.

In the preparation of this publication, only documents bearing a clear indication or reference to freshwaters which meet the standard illustrated at the outset of this Foreword, or to a particular body of freshwater also meeting the same standard, have been included in this publication. As a result, most, but not all, the material which featured in the Legislative Study No. 23 mentioned above has been included in this publication. In addition, where documents in draft form at that time had been included in that publication and have been since replaced by a new text, only the latter has been included in this publication. Many more documents which have made their appearance in the last nearly two decades have been added.

The present compendium is intended as a contribution to the better knowledge of the international law of freshwaters in general and, more specifically, as a source of ready reference and inspiration for policymakers and decisionmakers, legal practitioners and academics, and for Government legal advisors and negotiators, as they deal with the complex legal ramifications of developing and managing water resources shared across international borders and search for relevant applicable rules. The adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of a Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses at a specially convened session, in April 1997[1] adds to the urgency and usefulness of this publication. This complements three recent features in the Legislative Studies series, namely, the collections of the text of treaties and agreements on the non-navigational uses of international watercourses in Europe (Legislative Study No. 50 of 1993), Asia (Legislative Study No. 55 of 1995) and Africa (Legislative Study No. 61 of 1997).

This publication has been made possible thanks to the financial assistance of the FAO-executed technical assistance project GCP/RAF/286/ITA “Operational Water Resources and Information System in the Nile Basin Countries”, funded by the Government of Italy. The collaboration of Miss Paola Sartorio, who worked under contract with this Service, is gratefully acknowledged. Overall supervision and final editing have been the responsibility of Mr. S. Burchi, Senior Legal Officer with this Service.

Lawrence C. Christy
Chief, Development Law Service

[1] U.N. doc. A/51/869 of 11 April 1997.

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