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The Role and Relevance of the Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers in the European Context

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In 2008, the UN International Law Commission adopted a set of 19 articles as a contribution to the codification and development of international groundwater law, and submitted them to the UN General Assembly. In view of the ILC's report, UNGA Resolution 63/124 takes note of the Draft Articles; commends them to the attention of governments; encourages States to apply and adjust the Draft Articles as a basis to negotiate specific aquifer agreements; and decides provisionally to examine the question of the final form that might be given to those articles at that body's 66 th Session. The Draft Articles offer an important basis for the progressive development of the law governing transboundary aquifers, in particular by acknowledging the complementary relationship between universal and regional or aquifer-specific legal instruments. In this context, the paper will assess the potential role and relevance of the Draft Articles' text, as it now stands, to guide European States in the sound management of the aquifers shared in the region. It will do so by comparing and evaluating the relationship between the Draft Articles and relevant European legal instruments, with particular focus on the issues of sustainability, planned measures, monitoring, emergencies, and the geographic scope of freshwater agreements. The analysis will show that, while these global and regional instruments can be mutually supportive, some important differences exist in the extent and content of the obligations under each of them.


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