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The UNWC entered into force 17 years after the vote. However, of the 103 States that voted in favour of the UNWC, only 24 have eventually ratified (Table 4). Of the other States that have ratified, in the 1997 vote three had abstained and seven were absent (while Montenegro was only re-established in 2006). It is postulated that part of the absence of uptake by those originally voting for the UNWC might also be due to uncertainty about the relationship between ‘equitable and reasonable utilization’ and ‘obligation not to cause significant harm’. Examining the list of ratifying States based on their location on the majority of their transboundary watercourses, or average tendency of mix of international watercourses, shows that the majority of the ratifying States are downstream (21), with three having no international watercourses, seven being upstream, and four being generally midstream. Upstream States continue to be disengaged from the UNWC, together with no States in the Americas. Notably absent among ratifying States are major international watercourse States, including the USA, Russia, India, Brazil and China. Even where there are existing bilateral and multilateral treaties, it is important that all States endorse the universal principles embodied in the UNWC (24 EU States voted for the UNWC, although already bound by the EC-WFD).

Table 4.

Average NIW of States ratifying the UNWC (excluding Montenegro for which there are no data).

MeanStandard Deviation
All (34) 3.9 39.0 
Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote D'Ivoire, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Luxembourg, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, (no data for Montenegro). 
Excluding EU (19) 4.7 45.6 
Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote D'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Qatar, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, (no data for Montenegro). 
MeanStandard Deviation
All (34) 3.9 39.0 
Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote D'Ivoire, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Luxembourg, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, (no data for Montenegro). 
Excluding EU (19) 4.7 45.6 
Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote D'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Qatar, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, (no data for Montenegro). 

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