Status of the Watercourses Convention

as of 1 January 2020

Article 36(1) of the Convention provides that "The present Convention shall enter into force on the ninetieth day following the date of deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations."

The Convention was opened for signature from 21 May 1997 through 21 May 2000.  States, however, may continue to ratify, accept, approve or accede to the Convention indefinitely. Note that a signature means that the signatory accepts the obligations of the treaty in principle but is bound only to not violate the object and purpose of the treaty. For a nation to be fully bound to a treaty, it must take the additional step of ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding (depending on its domestic legal process) to that instrument. The 35th ratification was received on 19 May 2014. The The Convention entered into into force on 17 August 2014, 90 days after that 35th ratification was deposited. In addition to the now 36 ratifications to the Convention, there are an additional 3 nations that had signed but not yet ratified the treaty.

PARTICIPANT Signature (S) Ratification (R) Acceptance (A) Accession (a) Approval (AA)
Benin       5 July 2012  
Burkina Faso       22 March 2011  
Chad       26 September 2012  
Côte d'Ivoire 25 September 1998 25 February 2014      
Denmark       30 April 2012  
Finland 31 October 1997   23 January 1998    
France       24 February 2011  
Germany 13 August 1998 15 January 2007      
Greece       2 December 2010  
Guinea-Bissau       19 May 2010  
Hungary 20 July 1999       26 January 2000
Iraq       9 July 2001  
Ireland       20 December 2013  
Italy       30 November 2012  
Jordan 17 April 1999 22 June 1999      
Lebanon       25 May 1999  
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya       14 June 2005  
Luxembourg 14 October 1997 8 June 2012      
Montenegro       24 September 2013  
Morocco       13 April 2011  
Namibia 19 May 2000 29 August 2001      
Netherlands 9 March 2000   9 January 2001    
Niger       20 February 2013  
Nigeria   27 September 2010      
Norway 30 September 1998 30 September 1998      
"State of Palestine"       2 January 2015  
Paraguay 25 August 1998        
Portugal 11 November 1997 22 June 2005      
Qatar       28 February 2002  
South Africa 13 August 1997 26 October 1998      
Spain       24 September 2009;  
Sweden       15 June 2000  
Syrian Arab Republic 11 August 1997 2 April 1998      
Tunisia 19 May 2000 22 April 2009      
United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland       13 December 2013  
Uzbekistan       4 September 2007  
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 22 September 1997        
Vietnam       19 May 2014  
Yemen 17 May 2000        


DECLARATIONS AND RESERVATIONS  (Unless otherwise indicated, the declarations and reservations were made upon ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.)

Denmark - 30 April 2012

"Declaration: Until further notice, the Convention shall not apply to the Faroe Islands and Greenland."


"Declaration: The Government of the Republic of Hungary declares itself bound by either of the two means for the settlement of disputes (International Court of Justice, arbitration), reserving its right to agree on the competent body of jurisdiction, as the case may be."


"Declaration: Montenegro declares that in respect of any dispute not resolved in accordance with Article 33 paragraph 2 of the said Convention, Montenegro recognizes as compulsory ipso facto, and without special agreement in relationship to any party accepting the same obligation:
1. Submission of the dispute to the International Court of Justice; and/or
2. Arbitration by an arbitral tribunal established and operating, unless the parties to the dispute otherwise agreed, in accordance with the procedure laid down in the annex to the present Convention.”"

Netherlands - 17 February 2010

"Declaration: The Kingdom of the Netherlands declares, in accordance with paragraph 10 of Article 33 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, that it accepts both means of dispute settlement referred to in that paragraph as compulsory in relation to any Party accepting one or both means of dispute settlement."

Syrian Arab Republic

"Reservation: The acceptance by the Syrian Arab Republic of this Convention and its ratification by the Government shall not under any circumstances be taken to imply recognition of Israel and shall not lead to its entering into relations therewith that are governed by its provisions."

OBJECTIONS  (Unless otherwise indicated, the objections were made upon ratification, acceptance approval or accession.)

Israel - 15 July 1998

"Declaration: In regard to the reservation made by the Syrian Arab Republic upon ratification:
In view of the Government of the State of Israel such reservation, which is explicitly of a political nature, is incompatible with the purposes and objectives of this Convention and cannot in any way affect whatever obligations are binding upon the Syrian Arab Republic under general international treaty law or under particular conventions. The Government of the State of Israel will, in so far as concerns the substance of the matter, adopt towards the Syrian Arab Republic an attitude of complete reciprocity."