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VietNamNews

Viet Nam urged to ratify global waterways treaty

Update: December, 12/2013 - 08:00
The Nga Nam floating market in Soc Trang Province. Viet Nam would benefit from early ratification of the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Waterways, experts have advised. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha

HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam should expedite ratification of the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Waterways, experts say.

They said at a recent workshop held in the northern province of Vinh Phuc that the ratification would help Viet Nam better protect and exploit its rivers.

The workshop was co-organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's Department of Water Resources Management, as well as the World Wildlife Fund and International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Head of the department Hoang Van Bay noted that Viet Nam is located in the lower reaches of many large trans-boundary rivers.

Thus, ratifying the treaty was expected to offer Viet Nam opportunities to negotiate with other countries on how to use trans-boundary water resources effectively, Bay said.

Explaining why Viet Nam had yet to join the convention, Bay said that it was a global convention, providing a set of regulations to use and maintain trans-boundary water resources, with regulations that include many sensitive and political issues.

"So, it takes time for Viet Nam to carefully consider and create a comprehensive assessment of how the convention would impact the nation's politics, economy, and society before ratifying it," he said.

If the Government approved a proposal to ratify the convention in 2014, Viet Nam will become the first country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to approve it, he said.

Viet Nam's signing was hoped to be a precedent, in order to call upon other countries to join the convention, he added.

In becoming a member of the convention, Viet Nam would also be able to demand that other countries sharing the same water resources with Viet Nam join together to reduce and control trans-boundary water pollution, as well as receive compensation under regulations of the convention.

Additionally, ratifying the convention would force Viet Nam to quickly perfect its planning and management of the waterways, as well as establish a Rivers' Basin Commission, they added.

Also, by signing the convention Viet Nam would have access to statistics and information about hydro-meteorology, hydro-geology, ecosystems and the quality of trans-boundary water resources.

Further, the country would have an obligation to adjust the flow of rivers, prevent pollution of trans-boundary water resources, and obey rulings by third parties in dealing with disputes about exploiting and protecting shared water resources.

The 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Waterways, adopted by the United Nations on May 21, 1997, is the only convention governing shared freshwater resources that is of universal applicability.

The convention, however, has yet to enter into force, since only 31 countries have ratified it. The convention will take effect after being approved by 35 countries.

This is the first convention to comprehensively adjust water resources among countries located in the lower and upper reaches of large trans-boundary rivers. — VNS

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