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The Implementation Committee of the Water Convention

22 April 2021, 2:00 pm–5:45 pm

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An online conference organised by UCL with University of Bologna, University of the Pacific and UNECE

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UCL Laws Events

About the conference

The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) is a unique legal and intergovernmental platform which promotes sustainable use of transboundary waters. The Convention’s Implementation Committee, comprising lawyers and water management professionals, provides tailored assistance to facilitate better understanding, implementation and application of the Convention.

The event will highlight the mechanisms available for Committee’s support to the countries, in particular the advisory procedure, which distinguishes the Committee from other similar mechanisms and enables it to engage with countries seeking to resolve water issues in a non-confrontational manner.

The speakers include:

  • Catherine Brolmann, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Amsterdam  
  • Pedro Cunha Serra, former Water Director of Portugal, Implementation Committee
  • Professor Malgosia Fitzmaurice, Queen Mary University London
  • Alejandro Iza, IUCN Environmental Law Programme
  • Sonja Koeppel, Secretary of the Water Convention, UNECE
  • Péter Kovács, Water Director of Hungary
  • Christina Leb, World Bank
  • Professor Makane Moïse Mbengue, University of Geneva
  • Professor Phillipe Sands, University College London
  • Iulia Trombitcaia, Water Convention, UNECE
  • Sibylle Vermon, Federal Office for the Environment of Switzerland
  • Professor Christina Voigt, University of Oslo, Co-Chair of the Implementation and Compliance Committee of the Paris Agreement
  • Ambassador Ximena Fuentes, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile
  • Dinara Ziganshina, Scientific Information Center of Interstate Commission for Water Coordination in Central Asia; Vice-Chair of the Implementation Committee

Panel chairs are:

  • Professor Stephen McCaffrey, University of the Pacific, Implementation Committee of the Water Convention
  • Dr Martins Paparinskis, Reader in Public International Law, University College London; Implementation Committee of the Water Convention
  • Professor Attila Tanzi, University of Bologna; Chair of the Implementation Committee of the Water Convention

View the full programme

13:58  Zoom webinar opened for guests to join

14:00  Opening observations

  • Professor Attila Tanzi, University of Bologna; Chair of the Implementation Committee of the Water Convention
  • Sonja Koeppel, Secretary of the Water Convention, UNECE
  • Martins Paparinskis, Reader in Public International Law, University College London; Implementation Committee of the Water Convention

14:15   Panel 1: Water Convention and its Implementation Committee
Chair: Professor Steve McCaffrey, University of the Pacific, Implementation Committee of the Water Convention
 
Panellists:

  • Iulia Trombitcaia, Water Convention, UNECE
  • Sibylle Vermon, Federal Office for the Environment of Switzerland
  • Péter Kovács, Water Director of Hungary
  • Dinara Ziganshina, Scientific Information Center of Interstate Commission for Water Coordination in Central Asia; Vice-Chair of the Implementation Committee
  • Pedro Cunha Serra, former Water Director of Portugal, Implementation Committee

15:30  COMFORT BREAK

16:00 Panel 2: The Implementation Committee and international dispute settlement
Chair: Professor Attila Tanzi, University of Bologna, Chair of the Implementation Committee of the Water Convention
 
Panellists:

  • Catherine Brolmann, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Amsterdam  
  • Ambassador Ximena Fuentes, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile
  • Alejandro Iza, IUCN Environmental Law Programme
  • Professor Malgosia Fitzmaurice, Queen Mary University London
  • Professor Makane Moïse Mbengue, University of Geneva
  • Christina Leb, World Bank
  • Professor Christina Voigt, University of Oslo, Co-Chair of the Implementation and Compliance Committee of the Paris Agreement

17:30  Concluding remarks

Professor Phillipe Sands, University College London

17:45 Conference ends

About our speakers

Catherine Brölmann is an associate professor of law at the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Center for International Law, and a visiting professor at Lyon III University. She is a vice-chair of the Advisory Committee for public international law of the Netherlands government, and co editor-in-chief of the OUP repository Oxford International Organizations (OXIO). Catherine has published widely on subjects of international law, including law and governance of water resources (see for example European Society of International Law, ‘Sustainable Development Goal 6 as a Game Changer for International Water Law’, Reflection Vol. 7, Issue 5, 2018). As an expert she has participated e.g. in the closed consultations for the preparation of the 2018 UN General Assembly Report by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, OHCHR Geneva.


Pedro Cunha Serra is one of the leading Portuguese experts on water resources. He is a member of the Implementation Committee of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, and Advisor to the Minister of the Environment of Portugal on issues related to transboundary watercourses and member of the Portuguese Delegation to the Portuguese-Spanish Transboundary Rivers Commission. He has previously been Consultant to OSCE on the mediation of the conflict between Ukraine and Moldova on the Dniestrovski hydropower cascade in the Dniester transboundary river basin; a Member of the International Commission for the Portuguese-Spanish Transboundary Rivers and was one of the main negotiators of the 1998 Portuguese-Spanish Transboundary Rivers Convention (Albufeira Convention); and President of INAG, Portuguese Institute of Water, the national water authority, and was responsible, among other activities, for the preparation of water legislation, river basin plans, the negotiation of the Portuguese-Spanish Convention for Shared River Basins and the Water Framework Directive, participating in the Working Group of EU Water Directors.


Professor Malgosia Fitzmaurice holds a chair of public international law at the Department of Law, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). She specialises in international environmental law; the law of treaties; and indigenous peoples. She publishes widely on these subjects. In 2020, Professor Fitzmaurice has published (with Professor Panos Merkouris) a book Treaties in Motion: The Evolution of Treaties from Formation to Termination (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Her publications also include a monograph Whaling and International Law, Cambridge University Press, 2015 and (co-edited with Dai Tamada) Whaling in Antarctic: Significance and Implications of the ICJ Judgment, Brill/ Nijhoff, 2016.

She has delivered a lecture on the International Protection of the Environment at the The Hague Academy of International Law. Professor Fitzmaurice was invited as a Visiting Professor to and lectured at various universities, such Berkeley Law School; University of Kobe; Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I). Professor Fitzmaurice teaches undergraduate and LLM modules in international environmental law and the law of treaties. She also supervises PhD students. She is Editor in Chief of International Community Law Review journal and of the book series published by Brill/Nijhoff Queen Mary Studies in International Law.  She is an Associate Member of the L’Institut de Droit International.


Ximena Fuentes, D.Phil. (Oxon) is an Associate Professor of Public International Law at the University of Chile. Since 2015 she serves as the National Director of Boundaries and Border Areas of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is the Agent of the Republic of Chile in the case concerning the Status and Use of the Waters of the Silala (Chile v. Bolivia) before the International Court of Justice. She acted as legal adviser of the Government of Chile before the ICJ in the Peru v. Chile Maritime Dispute case (2008-2014) and in the Bolivia v. Chile case regarding An obligation to negotiate access to the Pacific Ocean (2013-2018). She is Vice-President of the Chilean Society of International Law. She was Co-Rapporteur of the Committee on International Law on Sustainable Development of the International Law Association (2003-2012). She wrote her D.Phil thesis on The criteria of equitable utilization of international watercourses in general international law, which served as the basis for her articles Sustainable Development and the Equitable Utilization of International Watercourses (1998) and The Criteria for the Equitable Utilization of International Rivers (1996), published in the British Yearbook. She has also participated in investor-State arbitrations (ICSID cases) as off Counsel at Chilean law firm Álvarez Hinzpeter Jana in the following arbitrations: Vieira v. Chile, Quiborax v. Bolivia and Flughafen Zurich v. Venezuela.


Alejandro Iza works for IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. He is the Director of the Environmental Law Centre and Head of the Environmental Law Programme since 2005. Alejandro Iza is a lawyer with a long trajectory in environmental policy and legal formulation, implementation, and diplomacy in more than 60 countries around the world.
In his academic career, Dr Iza taught public international law, and international environmental law. He authored and co-authored over 50 publications. An Argentine national, he studied law at the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina). He holds a Master of Laws from the University of London, and a PhD in international law (summa cum laude) from the University of Buenos Aires.


Dr Sonja Koeppel, originally from Germany, has been working for more than 10 years in the secretariat of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), serviced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in Geneva. She is currently secretary to the Convention and was previously coordinating the activities on climate change adaptation under the Convention and servicing different Convention bodies. She also leads the activities on the global opening of the Convention to all United Nations Member States. Before joining UNECE, she worked for UNEP in Nairobi for a short while and studied environmental sciences, policy and management in Budapest and Manchester as well as social sciences in Bordeaux and Stuttgart.

Péter Kovács is Head of River Basin Management and Water Protection unit in the Ministry of Interior, Hungary; the Head of Delegation to the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR); and served as a President of ICPDR in 2019. Peter represents his country as EU Water Director. He was previously chair of the UN ECE Water Convention between 2015-18, and is now a vice-chair. He had an active role in the World Water Council Board as an Alternate Governor. He is also responsible for implementation of over 30 bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Water Management Cooperation with non-neighbouring countries.

He started his professional career at a Regional Water Directorate and continued in an Environmental Inspectorate dealing mainly with water quality related issues in Hungary. Since 1997 he has had various policy-related positions in Hungarian ministries responsible for water management issues and has had an active role in international activities since his ministerial employment. In 2012 he was nominated as a plenipotentiary/governmental commissioner for six bilateral transboundary water commissions on behalf of Hungary and this work is ongoing. He was previously a State Secretary for Water in the Ministry of Rural Development (2012-13).  Peter holds a Dipl. Ing. in Civil Engineering (1988) from the Leningrad Technical University, St. Peterburg, Russia, and a diploma in Environmental Protection and Health from IHE Delft, now UNESCO-IHE. He has been a speaker at many courses including “International Visitor Leadership Program” in USA, “JICA Study Course on Industrial Pollution Control in Japan, “Environmental Issues and European Policies on Water Management” in Wageningen (The Netherlands), “Environmental and Water Resource Engineering” at the Imperial College London.


Christina Leb works as Senior Counsel at the Environment and International Law Department (LEGEN) of the World Bank where she advises on public international law and the Bank’s policy on projects on international waterways. Prior to this position, she was the Program Manager of the Central Asia Water Energy Program (CAWEP) and Thematic Focal Point for Transboundary Waters at the Water Global Practice, where she also worked on several other assignments related to water resources management and transboundary water governance in Africa and South and Central Asia. Prior to joining the World Bank, Dr. Leb worked at the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva and continues to be a fellow at the University’s Platform for International Water Law. She is also an affiliate member of the International Water Law Academy (IWLA) at Wuhan University. She holds a doctorate in public international law from the University of Geneva, a M.A. in international relations from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University, and a law degree from the Karl Franzens University of Graz, Austria.


Makane Moïse Mbengue is Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva and Director of the Department of International Law and International Organization. He is also an Affiliate Professor at Sciences Po Paris (School of Law). He is the President of the African Society of International Law (AfSIL). Prof. Mbengue has acted and acts as expert and consultant in several water negotiations and for several water basin organizations in Africa. Prof. Mbengue acts as counsel in disputes before international courts and tribunals (in particular, before the International Court of Justice and in investment cases) and as advisor for governments.


Dr Martins Paparinskis is Reader in Public International Law at University College London, Faculty of Laws. He is a generalist public international lawyer with a variety of specialist interests, including international environmental law and international dispute settlement. Martins has published with the American Journal of International Law, the British Year Book of International Law, the European Journal of International Law, and the Modern Law Review, for his monograph with Oxford Monograph Series in International Law, and is the author on State responsibility in the forthcoming 10th edition of Oppenheim: Peace. He is the Book Review Editor of the Journal of World Investment and Trade, a co-editor of Current Legal Problems, and a member of UCL Press executive group (editorial board). He is a member of the World Bank’s ICSID panels of arbitrators and of conciliators, a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a member of the OSCE Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and, since 2018, a member of the UNECE Water Convention’s Implementation Committee.


Attila M. Tanzi, Ph.D., is Chair of International Law at the University of Bologna; Associate Member 3VB Chambers, London. He has been Visiting Professor at Queen Mary University of London (2014-2016), Université Paris II-Panthéon Assas (2018), University of Vienna (2018-2019) and Université Paris Nanterre (2021). External Scientific Fellow at Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law (2020). He is instructed by governments, international organisations and corporations on matters of international law. He has been counsel, advocate and arbitrator in inter-state and investor-state disputes. Currently a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and a Conciliator at the OSCE Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. He is Chairman of the Implementation Committee of the of the UNECE 1992 Convention on Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (2013 -). He has been Chairman of the Legal Board of the same Convention (2004-2012) and Chairman of the Compliance Committee of the 1999 UNECE Protocol on Water and Health (2007-2010).

He has published extensively in English, French, Italian and Spanish in various areas of international law, including the law of State responsibility, jurisdictional immunities, international investment law, international environmental law and the law of international watercourses.


Iulia Trombitcaia is an Environmental Affairs Officer at the secretariat of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) hosted by UNECE. In 2014–2019, at UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews (EPR) Programme, she coordinated seven EPRs and participated in 11 EPRs in the countries of UNECE region and beyond. In 2009–2013, she was servicing the Legal Board, the Core Group on Groundwater and the Implementation Committee of the Water Convention. In 2009–2013, she has led several UNECE projects related to water and environmental cooperation in Central Asia. Before joining UNECE, she has been working for the European ECO-Forum, representing environmental NGOs in negotiations on environment and sustainable development.


Sibylle Vermont : Biologist and negotiator. Deputy Head of the Section Global Affairs - Division of International Affairs of the Federal Office for the Environment of Switzerland. In charge of the international water policy : Swiss focal point and member of the Bureau and former chair of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. National focal point for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Responsible for the international forest policy on forests, and a focal point for the United Nations Forum on Forests. At present heading the negotiations of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.


Dr. Christina Voigt is a renowned expert in international environmental law and professor of law at the University of Oslo. Professor Voigt has published widely on legal issues of climate change, environmental multilateralism and sustainability and is a frequent speaker at international and national events. From 2009-2018, she also worked as legal adviser and negotiator for the Government of Norway in the UN climate negotiations.

Professor Voigt is currently co-chair of the Paris Agreement Implementation and Compliance Committee. She is also chair of the Climate Change Specialist Group of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law and a member of the IUCN Climate Change Task Force. For more information, please consult: https://www.jus.uio.no/ior/english/people/aca/chrisvo/


Dr Dinara Ziganshina is a deputy director at the Scientific Information Centre of Interstate Commission for Water Coordination (SIC ICWC) in Central Asia, a regional organisation that contributes to fostering transboundary water cooperation in the region through data, information and knowledge development and dissemination. Dr. Ziganshina earned her law degree from the Tashkent State Institute of Law (Uzbekistan, 2001), LL.M. in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from the University of Oregon School of Law (USA, 2008) and PhD in International Water Law from the IHP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science under the auspice of UNESCO, University of Dundee (UK, 2012). In addition to her position at SIC ICWC, she also an Associate Professor at the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers, where she teaches a postgraduate course in International and National Water Relations and Law. Dr. Ziganshina is a vice chair of the Implementation Committee under the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes.

Dr. Ziganshina has about 20 years’ experience working as a legal and policy expert in water resources management at national and transboundary levels and managing and coordinating regional projects in multi-stakeholder environments. The area of her research interest includes public international law, transboundary waters, institution-building, water diplomacy and security.

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