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The Berlin Rules on Water Resources: A New Paradigm for International Water Law

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Joseph William Dellapenna
Rapporteur of the Berlin Rules of Water Resources, working on behalf of the Water Resources Law Committee of the International Law Association.

Keyword(s): International law; water resources; groundwater; environmental issues; human rights
Article:
AbstractIn 2004, the International Law Association approved the Berlin Rules on Water Resources, summarizing the customary international law applicable to water resources. (I served as Rapporteur for the Berlin Rules.) The Berlin Rules replace the Helsinki Rules on the Use of Waters of International Rivers, approved by the International Law Association in 1966, and supplement UN Convention on Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, approved by the UN General Assembly in 1997. The Berlin Rules, unlike both the Helsinki Rules and the UN Convention, incorporate the major changes in international law relating to environmental concerns and to human rights (a right to water, a right to participate in decision making, a right to a legal remedy, etc.), as well as undertaking the first comprehensive examination of the rules and principles applicable to groundwater. In another innovation, many of the rules extend to national waters as well as internationally shared waters because of the broader reach of international environmental law and international human rights law. The Berlin Rules also address topics not included in the UN Convention, including navigation and the laws of war. The Berlin Rules present a significant rethinking of the traditionally recognized rules of international water law, presenting a new paradigm suitable for the 21st century.
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