Nigeria and Iraq have become the 48th and 49th Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (known as the UN Water Convention).
This unique international legal and intergovernmental framework aims to ensure the sustainable use of transboundary water resources by facilitating cooperation across borders.
Nigeria and Iraq signed up in separate ceremonies during the UN 2023 Water Conference, 22-24 March. For both countries, enhanced transboundary water cooperation will play a vital role in sustainable development at the national and regional level and in supporting international peace.
Nigeria shares at least one transboundary water body with each of its neighbouring states, making cooperation a key part of transformative action needed to address complex water challenges. Nigeria is home to about 80 per cent of the 100 million people residing in the basin of the Niger river, which crosses Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad.
Iraq is the first country in the Middle East to join the Convention. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers Basins are the most important sources of surface water for some 237 million people across Iraq (43.5 million), Iran (88 million), Syria (21 million) and Türkiye (85 million). Facing high water stress, Iraq – and, indeed, the region – is experiencing mounting social, economic and political pressures due to water scarcity.
The Water Convention, whose secretariat is serviced by UNECE, is a unique and widely accepted intergovernmental legal framework. It requires Parties to prevent, control and reduce negative impacts on water quality and quantity across borders, to use shared waters in a reasonable and equitable way, and to ensure their sustainable management through cooperation. Parties bordering the same transboundary waters are obliged to cooperate by concluding specific agreements and establishing joint bodies.