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Part IV Fundamental Rights and Obligations, A Substantive Obligations, 10 The Obligation to Prevent Harm to Other Riparian States

From: The Law of International Watercourses (3rd Edition)

Stephen C. McCaffrey

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 03 June 2023

Freshwater — Lakes — Rivers

This chapter focuses on the “no-harm” obligation. Article 7 of the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention provides that in utilizing an international watercourse, states have an obligation to “prevent the causing of significant harm” to other states sharing the watercourse. The inclusion of this provision in the Convention, and especially its placement in a section of the Convention entitled “General Principles,” implies that it is one of the fundamental obligations in the field. Nevertheless, many questions surround the no-harm principle, particularly as it applies in the context of international watercourses. The chapter then addresses three preliminary matters. The first concerns the legal status of the no-harm principle and its relationship to equitable utilization. The second question concerns the meaning of “harm.” The third and final issue has to do with the way in which the operation of the no-harm rule has traditionally been conceived.

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