Rhine Convention

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Convention Name

Convention on the Protection of the Rhine


The new Convention on the Protection of the Rhine was signed in Bern on 12 April 1999. In doing so, the Governments of the five countries bordering the Rhine (Switzerland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands), and the representative of the European Community formally all confirmed their determination to reinforce their co-operation with a view to a continued protection of the valuable character of the Rhine, its banks and its flood plains. This convention substitutes the Bern Convention signed in 1963.

The Convention is designed to preserve and improve the ecosystem of the Rhine. This Decision seeks to strengthen cooperation between the Community and the Rhine riparian States. The Convention entered into force on 1st January 2003.

The entry into force of the new Convention repeals the April 1963 Agreement concerning the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine against Pollution, the Additional Agreement of 1976 to the Agreement of April 1963 concerning the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine against Pollution and the 1976 Convention for the protection of the Rhine against chemical pollution.

The aims of the new Convention are as follows:

  • sustainable development of the Rhine ecosystem through:
    • maintaining and improving the quality of the Rhine's waters, and its natural function;
    • protecting species diversity ;
    • reducing contamination;
    • conserving and improving natural habitats for wild fauna and flora;
    • ensuring environmentally sound management of water resources;
    • taking ecological requirements into account when developing the waterway.
  • production of drinking water;
  • improvement of sediment quality;
  • flood protection;
  • coordination with measures to protect the North Sea.

The riparian States undertake to:

  • cooperate in taking actions to protect the Rhine;
  • implement programmes and studies concerning the river;
  • identify the causes of and parties responsible for pollution;
  • ensure that technical measures liable to have a serious effect on the ecosystem, as well as discharges of waste water and hazardous substances, are subject to prior authorisation;
  • reduce the risks of environmental accidents.

The International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) is made up of representatives of the Contracting States. It is chaired by those States in turn. It takes decisions unanimously and communicates them to the Contracting Parties. The tasks of the ICPR are as follows:

  • prepare studies and programmes on the Rhine ecosystem;
  • make proposals for actions;
  • evaluate the effectiveness of the actions carried out;
  • coordinate warnings and alerts;
  • inform the public as to the state of the Rhine and the results of its work.

Each year, the ICPR draws up an activity report and submits it to the Contracting Parties.

The Contracting Parties report regularly to the ICPR on the legislative, regulatory and other measures they have taken with a view to implementing the Convention and the results of those measures.


See Also

Water-related Legislation and Conventions

Status and importance of water-relevant international legal instruments for the 5 Central Asian countries

External Resources


Full text of the Convention  Convention on tthe protection of the rhine.pdf

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