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Nigeria ratifies UN convention on trans-border water course

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) of Nigeria has ratified the UN Water Convention on the Protection and use of Trans-Border Water Course and International Lakes.

Suleiman Adamu
Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu

Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, briefed State House correspondents after the FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday,October 26, 2022, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, Nigeria has trans-border waters – the Rivers Niger and Benue and the Lake Chad.

“This is a UN Convention and it is called the Water Convention.

“Countries are required to accede to this convention and to also get it ratified by government; so, council ratified this convention today.

“The convention has a lot of benefits for Nigeria because of our numerous trans-boundary waters; we need to strengthen cooperation with members with who we share the same basin.

“In addition to the fact that we are members of the Niger Basin Authority and the Benue River Commission, joining the international convention will give us a better recognition and we will have a better bargaining power for lots of issues that have to do with trans-boundary waters.’’

Adamu said that the ratification also rhymed with Nigeria’s efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals; specifically Goal 6.5 with the need to consolidate existing cooperation with neighbouring countries and the issues of ground water and trans-boundary waters.

He said trans-boundary waters might be ground water and surface water.

“We are the third country within the Niger Basin Authority to accede after Chad and Cameroun.

“We hope that subsequently other countries would also join this convention.

“It is an international convention and we are putting our footprints there.

“The process took about a year; we have gone through many zonal workshops, national workshops and road shows and it has got the buy-in of all stakeholders,’’ he said.

The minister said that the Attorney-General of the Federation would prepare the instrument of ratification.

At the UN General Assembly in 1997, an overwhelming majority of States voted for the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses – a global overarching framework governing the rights and duties of States sharing freshwater systems.

Globally, there are 263 internationally shared watersheds, which drain the territories of 145 countries and represent more than 40 per cent of the Earth’s land surface.

Hence, inter-State cooperation towards the sustainable management of transboundary water supplies, in accordance with applicable international legal instruments, is a topic of crucial importance, especially in the context of the current global water crisis.

This volume provides an assessment of the role and relevance of the UN Watercourses Convention and describes and evaluates its entry into force as a key component of transboundary water governance.

To date, the Convention still requires further contracting States before it can enter into force.

The authors describe the drafting and negotiation of the Convention and its relationship to other multilateral environmental agreements.

A series of case studies assess the role of the Convention at various levels: regional (European Union, East Africa, West Africa, Central Asia, Central America and South America), river basin (e.g. the Mekong and Congo) and national (e.g. Ethiopia and Mexico).

The book concludes by proposing how future implementation might further strengthen international cooperation in the management of water resources, to promote biodiversity conservation as well as sustainable and equitable use.

By Chijioke Okoronkwo

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