Shared Water Resources in West Africa

Relevance and Application of the UN Watercourses and the UNECE Water Conventions

In: Brill Research Perspectives in International Water Law
Nwamaka Chigozie Odili Legal Officer, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja, Nigeria

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Since the adoption of the General Act of Berlin in 1885, which dealt, inter alia, with the Niger River, more agreements have been contracted for the management of some of the shared watercourses in West Africa, particularly in the post-colonial era. Although only six out of its numerous shared watercourses are regulated by legal instruments, West Africa contributed through these agreements to the development of international water prior to the adoption of the un Watercourses and the unece Water Conventions in the 1990s. Initial instruments dealt primarily with navigation, while later agreements addressed the need for co-operation and incorporated other principles of customary international water law. The two conventions have, no doubt, influenced this trend, raising the question of whether riparian states in West Africa need to be parties to either or both water conventions to enhance management, sharing, and protections of their shared watercourses.

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