Short course International Water Law and the Law of Transboundary Aquifers (distance learning course) 2019

The course provides professionals involved in negotiating or implementing treaties related to freshwater resources with the knowledge of the principles and norms that govern the use, sharing, management and protection of this exhaustible natural resource.



21 October 2019 - 22 December 2019
4 ECTS credits
120 Distance teaching hours




Distance learning





Registration deadline

18 October 2019


CHF 900.-


  • Gain sound knowledge of international water law
  • Acquire an in-depth understanding of the multifaceted aspects related to the governance of water resources
  • Foster reflection on the linkages between international water law and other areas of international law
  • Foster reflection allowing a more effective use of legal tools to improve access to water and solve water-related disputes


Professional from various backgrounds including law, international relations, hydrology, engineering or economics
Government official (diplomat, technical and scientific specialist working in transboundary water issues), international organization staff, civil society representative academic and professional from the private sector

Learning outcomes

  • Interpret and apply the legal instruments, principles and norms of international water law in order to contribute to prevent and settle water disputes
  • Identify and use key instruments and principles of the law of transboundary aquifers
  • Explain the current legal developments in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to the creation of instruments promoting equitable access and sustainable use of water resources
  • Develop legal skills for the negotiation and implementation of fresh water agreements
  • Promote cooperation and prevent conflicts arising from water use and the sharing of fresh water resources
  • Promote and support public participation in water management issues


7 online modules:

  • Sources and Concepts of International Water Law
  • The Evolution of International Regulation on Transboundary Water Resources
  • The Principles of the Law on Transboundary Water Resources (Part I) (equitable and reasonable use, mechanisms to settle water disputes, etc.)
  • The Principles of the Law on Transboundary Water Resources (Part II) (public participation, human right to water, international humanitarian law, etc.)
  • The Law of Transboundary Aquifers
  • Water and International Economic Law
  • Case Study: Analysis and Legal Resolution


Prof. Laurence BOISSON DE CHAZOURNES, Director of the Platform for International Water Law at the Geneva Water Hub, Faculty of Law, University of Geneva,
Prof. Makane M. MBENGUE, Faculty of Law and Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, and Member of the Platform for International Water Law at the Geneva Water Hub and Dr. Mara TIGNINO, Reader and Coordinator of the Platform for International Water Law at the Geneva Water Hub, Faculty of Law, University of Geneva


Dr. Mara TIGNINO, University of Geneva


The Course is implemented by the Geneva Water Hub in collaboration with DiploFoundation and receives the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
The governance and protection of fresh water is one of the biggest challenges facing the planet over the next decade. With the steady increase of the world's population, urbanization and environmental degradation, the competing demands of States will continue to grow and amplify the risk of disputes. In 2017, the World Economic Forum stated that water crises will be among the highest global risks for the coming fifteen years.
Legal knowledge is required by professionals to negotiate and implement legal and institutional frameworks on transboundary water resources. The strengthening of capacities is essential for an effective water cooperation and the sustainable management of water resources and the maintenance of peace and global security.


21 October 2019
27 October 2019


• Explaining the characteristics of international actors in the development of international water law. • Defining the sources of international water law. • Comparing diplomatic and judicial methods for settling international water disputes.


28 October 2019
3 November 2019


• Analyzing the key aspects and scope of the 1997 Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses and the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. • Describing the activities of the League of Nations, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations in the development of international water law. • Differentiating between the work of the International Law Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).


4 November 2019
17 November 2019


• Examining the content of the principle of equitable and reasonable use, the obligation not to cause significant harm and the principle of cooperation. • Discussing and providing examples of international judicial decisions dealing with international water law. • Understanding the role and function of river basin organizations.


18 November 2019
24 November 2019


• Explaining the role of water in international environmental law and human rights law. • Defining and assessing the human right to water and sanitation. • Identifying the norms on the protection of water during armed conflicts.


25 November 2019
8 December 2019


• Understanding and analyzing the principles applicable to the management and protection of transboundary aquifers. • Examining and assessing the relationship between the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on Transboundary Aquifers of 2008, the 1997 Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses and the Model Provisions on Groundwater Resources of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). • Identifying the main rules of the existing agreements on transboundary aquifers.


9 December 2019
15 December 2019


• Understanding the linkages between water and international economic law. • Differentiating between international trade law and international investment law. • Defining the functions of amicus curiae in arbitrations dealing with water.


16 December 2019
22 December 2019


Resolution of a scenario-based case study.

Pedagogical method

The course presents interactive lessons and additional resources, such as links to complementary information and a glossary of legal terms, as primary learning method. Videos, discussing specific issues and featuring international legal experts, are a secondary component.

The learning approach is complemented by practical collaborative activities, such as scenario-based exercises, guided research assignments, discussion forums and webinars. Throughout the course participants learn from each other and interact with the moderator who supports their learning process.

Admission criteria

  • A recognized University degree (Bachelor,Master, Ph.D or equivalent)
  • Two years of relevant professional experience related to the management and protection of water resources
  • Fluency in English, particularly written and reading abilities
  • Applicants must have a computer and a reliable internet connection for the programme duration.They must possess basic computer skills such as navigating the Internet and using Microsoft Word
  • Applicants must submit a CV and a motivation letter explaining why the knowledge of international waterlaw is relevant to their work and how it will be applied to carry out their professional duties

Number of participants

Max. 35 participants

“The training used different participatory approaches such as webinar, assignments and quiz which tested factual knowledge and analytical perspective of the subject matter. The support afforded to me, both technical as well as the answers from the expert, was superb. Therefore, I have no hesitation in recommending the course to any person whatsoever.”

Sarah Vranckx, Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Namibia.


“...this course is really helping me see things in a new light (...). I have learnt a lot and I am continuing to learn. I soon have to submit a memo to my director to show him the importance of IWL and the shortcomings of Togo in the domain.”

Richard Barry, Directorate of Water Resources, Togo.


“I found the course invaluable. It gave me the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of a wide range of legal topics not only at a national level but also at a global scale. The provided materials and the interactive course design made easy to follow it. The moderator was always supportive and quickly replied to my questions”

Mohammad Daud Hamidi, MA Student in Integrated Water Resources Management, Afghanistan.


“All modules were interactive and included a comprehensive description of different legal instruments of selected types of issues that can occur between riparian stakeholders and those related to human security. The course has also helped me to understand better practical challenges of implementing international water law.”

Martina Kilmes, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Sweden.

Les termes utilisés pour désigner des personnes sont pris au sens générique; ils ont à la fois la valeur d'un masculin et d'un féminin.