UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

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The UNECE Water Convention is a landmark legal framework for cooperation on transboundary water resources, extending to both surface water and groundwater. The Convention entered into force in 1996 and was ratified by 36 UNECE countries and the European Community. It takes a holistic approach based on the understanding that water resources play an integral part in ecosystems as well as in human societies and economies. Its commitment to integrated water resources management replaces an earlier focus on localized sources of pollution and management of separate components of the ecosystem. In 2003, the Water Convention was amended to allow accession by countries outside the UNECE region, thus inviting the rest of the world to use the Convention’s legal framework and to benefit from its experience. Once the amendment enters into force, this will be of particular importance for countries that border the UNECE region, such as Afghanistan, China and the Islamic Republic of Iran.