the Federal Republic of Germany
the French Republic
the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
the Kingdom of the Netherlands
the Swiss Confederation
and the European Community,
Desiring to work towards the sustainable development of the Rhine ecosystem
on the basis of a comprehensive approach, taking into consideration the
natural wealth of the river, its banks and alluvial areas,
Desiring to step up their cooperation on conserving and improving the
Referring to the Convention of 17 March 1992 on the protection and use
of transboundary watercourses and international lakes and the Convention
of 22 September 1992 on the protection of the marine environment of the
Taking into account the work carried out under the Agreement of 29 April
1963 concerning the International Commission for the Protection of the
Rhine against Pollution and the Additional Agreement of 3 December 1976,
Considering that efforts must be made to further the improvement in water
quality achieved under the Convention of 3 December 1976 for the protection
of the Rhine against chemical pollution and under the Rhine Action Programme
of 30 September 1987,
Aware that the restoration of the Rhine is also necessary to conserve
and improve the ecosystem of the North Sea,
Aware of the importance of the Rhine as a European waterway and of its
Have agreed as follows:
For the purposes of this Convention:
1. "Rhine" means the Rhine from the outlet of Lake Untersee
and, in the Netherlands, the branches Bovenrijn, Bijlands Kanaal, Pannerdensch
Kanaal, IJssel, Nederrijn, Lek, Waal, Boven-Merwede, Beneden-Merwede,
Noord, Oude Maas, Nieuwe Maas and Scheur and the Nieuwe Waterweg as far
as the base line as specified in Article 5 in connection with Article
11 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Ketelmeer
and the Ijsselmeer;
2. "Commission" means the International Commission for the Protection
of the Rhine (ICPR).
This Convention applies to:
a) the Rhine;
b) ground water interacting with the Rhine;
c) aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems which interact or could again interact
with the Rhine;
d) the Rhine catchment area, insofar as its pollution by noxious substances
adversely affects the Rhine;
e) The Rhine catchment area, insofar as it is of importance for flood
prevention and protection along the Rhine.
The Contracting Parties shall pursue the following aims through this Convention:
1. sustainable development of the Rhine ecosystem, in particular through:
(a) maintaining and improving the quality of the Rhine's waters, including
the quality of suspended matter, sediments and ground water, notably by
- preventing, reducing or eliminating as far as possible pollution caused
by noxious substances and by nutrients from point sources (e.g. industry
and municipalities) and diffuse sources (e.g. agriculture and traffic)
- including that from groundwater - and pollution from shipping;
- ensuring and improving the safety of installations and preventing incidents
(b) protecting populations of organisms and species diversity and reducing
contamination by noxious substances in organisms;
(c) maintaining, improving and restoring the natural function of the waters;
ensuring that flow management takes account of the natural flow of solid
matter and promotes interactions between river, ground water and alluvial
areas; conserving, protecting and reactivating alluvial areas as natural
(d) conserving, improving and restoring the most natural habitats possible
for wild fauna and flora in the water, on the river bed and banks and
in adjacent areas, and improving living conditions for fish and restoring
their free migration;
(e) ensuring environmentally sound and rational management of water resources;
(f) taking ecological requirements into account when implementing technical
measures to develop the waterway, e.g. for flood protection, shipping
or the use of hydroelectric power;
2. the production of drinking water from the waters of the Rhine;
3. improvement of sediment quality in order that dredged material may
be deposited or spread without adversely affecting the environment;
4. general flood prevention and protection, taking account of ecological
5. to help restore the North Sea in conjunction with the other actions
taken to protect it.
Article 4 Principles
To this end, the Contracting Parties shall be guided by the following
(a) precautionary principle;
(b) principle of preventive action;
(c) principle of rectification, as a priority at source;
(d) polluter-pays principle;
(e) principle of not increasing damage;
(f) principle of compensation in the event of major technical measures;
(g) principle of sustainable development;
(h) application and development of the state of the art and best environmental
(i) principle of not transferring environmental pollution from one environment
Article 5 Undertakings by the Contracting Parties
To achieve the aims set out in Article 3, and in the light of the principles
set out in Article 4, the Contracting Parties undertake:
1. to step up their cooperation and to inform one another, particularly
regarding actions taken in their territory to protect the Rhine;
2. to implement in their territory the international measuring programmes
and the studies of the Rhine ecosystem agreed upon by the Commission and
to inform the Commission of the results;
3. to carry out analyses with a view to identifying the causes of and
parties responsible for pollution;
4. to initiate the autonomous actions they deem necessary in their territory,
and in any event ensure that
(a) discharging of waste water liable to affect water quality is subject
to prior authorisation or to general rules laying down emission limits;
(b) discharges of hazardous substances are gradually reduced with a view
to complete elimination;
(c) compliance with authorisations and general rules is monitored, as
(d) authorisations and general rules are periodically examined and adjusted
where substantial improvements in the state of the art so permit or where
the state of the receiving medium so necessitates;
(e) the risk of pollution from incidents or accidents is reduced as far
as possible by regulations, and the requisite measures are taken in the
event of an emergency;
(f) technical measures liable to have a serious effect on the ecosystem
are subject to prior authorisation, along with the necessary conditions,
or to general regulations;
5. to initiate the necessary actions in their territory to implement decisions
taken by the Commission in accordance with Article 11;
6. in the event of incidents or accidents that might threaten the quality
of the water of the Rhine or in the event of imminent flooding, immediately
to inform the Commission and the Contracting Parties liable to be affected,
in accordance with the warning and alert plans coordinated by the Commission.
Article 6 Commission
1. To implement this Convention, the Contracting Parties shall pursue
their cooperation within the Commission.
2. The Commission shall have legal personality. In the territory of the
Contracting Parties it shall, in particular, enjoy the legal capacity
conferred on legal persons by domestic law. It shall be represented by
3. Questions of labour legislation and social matters shall be governed
by the law of the country in which the Commission has its seat.
7 Organisation of the Commission
1. The Commission shall consist of the delegations of the Contracting
Parties. Each Contracting Party shall appoint its delegates, one of whom
shall be head of delegation.
2. The delegations may enlist the services of experts.
3. The Commission shall be chaired for three years by each delegation
in turn in the order of Contracting Parties listed in the preamble. The
delegation chairing the Commission shall appoint the Chairman. The Chairman
shall not act as spokesman for his delegation.
Should a Contracting Party waive its right to chair the Commission, the
next Contracting Party shall take the Chair.
4. The Commission shall draft its rules of procedure and financial regulations.
5. The Commission shall decide on matters of internal organisation, the
working structure it deems necessary and the annual operating budget.
8 Tasks of the Commission
1. To achieve the aims set out in Article 3 the Commission shall accomplish
the following tasks:
(a) prepare international measuring programmes and studies of the Rhine
ecosystem and make use of their results, in cooperation with scientific
institutions if necessary;
(b) make proposals for individual measures and programmes of measures,
where appropriate including economic instruments and taking into account
the expected costs;
(c) coordinate the Contracting States' warning and alert plans for the
(d) evaluate the effectiveness of the actions decided upon, notably on
the basis of the reports of the Contracting Parties and the results of
the measuring programmes and studies of the Rhine ecosystem;
(e) carry out any other tasks entrusted to it by the Contracting Parties.
2. To this end, the Commission shall take decisions in accordance with
Articles 10 and 11.
3. The Commission shall submit an annual activity report to the Contracting
4. The Commission shall inform the public as to the state of the Rhine
and the results of its work. It may draft and publish reports.
9 Plenary sessions of the Commission
1. At the invitation of the Chairman, the Commission shall meet for one
plenary session per year.
2. Extraordinary plenary sessions may be called by the Chairman, upon
his initiative or at the request of at least two delegations.
3. The Chairman shall propose the agenda. Each delegation shall have the
right to have items included on the agenda that it wishes to have discussed.
10 Decision-making in the Commission
1. Decisions of the Commission shall be taken unanimously.
2. Each delegation shall have one vote.
3. If measures to be carried out by the Contracting Parties in accordance
with Article 8(1)(b) fall within the competence of the European Community,
the latter shall vote with the number of votes corresponding to the number
of its Member States which are Contracting Parties to this Convention,
notwithstanding paragraph 2 above. The European Community shall not vote
in cases where its Member States vote and vice versa.
4. Abstention of only one delegation shall not constitute an impediment
to unanimity. This shall not apply to the delegation of the European Community.
Absence of a delegation shall be considered as abstention.
5. The rules of procedure may provide for a written procedure.
Article 11 Implementation of Commission Decisions
1. The Commission shall communicate to the Contracting Parties, in the
form of recommendations, its decisions on the measures referred to in
Article 8(1)(b), which shall be implemented in accordance with the national
law of the Contracting Parties.
2. The Commission may stipulate that these decisions
(a) shall be applied by the Contracting Parties on the basis of a timetable;
(b) shall be implemented in a coordinated manner.
3. The Contracting Parties shall report regularly to the Commission on:
(a) the legislative, regulatory and other measures they have taken with
a view to implementing the provisions of this Convention and on the basis
of the Commission's decisions;
(b) the results of the measures implemented in accordance with subparagraph
(c) problems arising in the implementation of the measures referred to
in subparagraph (a).
4. If a Contracting Party cannot implement the Commission's decisions,
in full or in part, it shall report this within a specific time limit
set by the Commission on a case-by-case basis and shall give its reasons.
Each delegation may submit a request for consultation, to which a response
must be given within two months.
On the basis of the reports from the Contracting Parties or of consultations,
the Commission may decide that measures will be taken to assist the implementation
of the decisions.
5. The Commission shall keep a list of its decisions addressed to the
Contracting Parties. The Contracting Parties shall add to the list annually
with updates on the progress made in implementing the Commission's decisions,
at the latest two months before the Plenary Session of the Commission.
12 Secretariat of the Commission
1. The Commission shall have a permanent secretariat, which shall carry
out the tasks entrusted to it by the Commission and be headed by an executive
2. The Contracting Parties shall decide on the headquarters of the secretariat.
3. The Commission shall appoint the executive secretary.
Article 13 Distribution of costs
1. Each Contracting Party shall bear the costs of its representation in
the Commission and its working structure, and each Contracting State shall
bear the costs of the studies and actions it carries out within its territory.
2. The distribution of costs relating to the annual operating budget between
the Contracting Parties shall be laid down in the Commission's rules of
procedure and financial regulations.
14 Cooperation with other States, other organisations and external experts
1. The Commission shall cooperate with other intergovernmental organisations
and may address recommendations to them.
2. The Commission may recognise as observers:
(a) States that have an interest in the work of the Commission;
(b) intergovernmental organisations whose work is related to the Convention;
(c) non-governmental organisations, insofar as their field of interest
or activities are relevant.
3. The Commission shall exchange information with non-governmental organisations
insofar as their fields of interest or activities are relevant. The Commission
shall in particular consult such organisations before discussing decisions
liable to have an important impact on them and shall inform them as soon
as such decisions have been taken.
4. Observers may submit to the Commission any information or reports relevant
to the aims of the Convention. They may be invited to participate in Commission
meetings without having the right to vote.
5. The Commission may decide to consult specialists representing the recognised
non-governmental organisations or other experts and invite them to its
6. The conditions for cooperation and those for eligibility and participation
shall be laid down in the rules of procedure and financial regulations.
15 Working languages
The working languages of the Commission shall be Dutch, French and German.
Detailed arrangements shall be laid down in the rules of procedure and
Article 16 Settlement of disputes
1. If a dispute arises between Contracting Parties regarding the interpretation
or application of this Convention, the Parties concerned shall seek a
solution through negotiation or any other form of dispute settlement acceptable
2. If the dispute cannot be settled in this manner, it shall, unless the
Parties to the dispute decide otherwise, be submitted, at the request
of one of them, to arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the
Annex to this Convention, which shall form an integral part thereof.
17 Entry into force
Each Contracting Party will notify the Government of the Swiss Confederation
once it has completed the procedures necessary to bring this Convention
into force. The Government of the Swiss Confederation will confirm the
receipt of notifications and also inform the other Contracting Parties.
The Convention will enter into force on the first day of the second month
following receipt of the last notification.
1. Three years after its entry into force, any of the Contracting Parties
may at any time withdraw from this Convention by means of a written declaration
to the Government of the Swiss Confederation.
2. Withdrawal from of the Convention shall take effect only at the end
of the following year.
19 Repeal and continued application of current law
1. With the entry into force of this Convention and notwithstanding paragraphs
2 and 3 of this Article, the following shall be repealed:
(a) Agreement of 29 April 1963 concerning the International Commission
for the Protection of the Rhine against Pollution,
(b) Additional Agreement of 3 December 1976 to the Agreement of 29 April
1963 concerning the International Commission for the Protection of the
Rhine against Pollution,
(c) Convention of 3 December 1976 for the protection of the Rhine against
2. Decisions, recommendations, limit values and any other arrangements
adopted on the basis of the Agreement of 29 April 1963 concerning the
International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine against Pollution,
the Additional Agreement of 3 December 1976 and the Convention of 3 December
1976 for the protection of the Rhine against chemical pollution shall
remain applicable without any change to their legal nature, provided the
Commission does not explicitly repeal them.
3. The distribution of costs relating to the annual operating budget defined
in Article 12 of the Agreement of 29 April 1963 concerning the International
Commission for the Protection of the Rhine against Pollution as amended
by the Additional Agreement of 3 December 1976 shall remain in force until
the Commission has established a distribution in its rules of procedure
and financial regulations.
20 Original and Deposit
This Convention, drafted in the Dutch, French and German languages, each
of the three texts being equally authentic, is deposited with the Government
of the Swiss Confederation, which will transmit a certified copy to each
of the Contracting Parties.
Done at Bern, April 12th, 1999
the Governments of
the Federal Republic of Germany: the Kingdom of the Netherlands:
Klaus BALD A.P.T. BIJLSMA
the French Republic: the Swiss Confederation:
André GADAUD Philippe ROCH
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg: For the European Community:
Paul HANSEN Helmut BLÖCH
Unless the parties to the dispute decide otherwise, the arbitration procedure
shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this Annex.
2. The arbitral tribunal shall consist of three members. The claimant
and the defendant shall appoint one arbitrator each; the two arbitrators
so appointed shall by common consent designate a third who shall chair
If the chair of the arbitral tribunal has not been appointed within two
months of the appointment of the second arbitrator, the President of the
International Court of Justice shall appoint an arbitrator within two
further months at the request of the first party to act.
3. If one of the parties to the dispute has not appointed a member of
the tribunal within two months of receipt of the request provided for
in Article 16 of the Convention, the other party may submit the matter
to the President of the International Court of Justice who shall appoint
the chair of the arbitral tribunal within a further two months. Once appointed,
the chair shall request the party which has not yet appointed an arbitrator
to do so within two months. Upon expiry of this time limit he or she shall
submit the matter to the President of the International Court of Justice
who shall make this appointment within a further two months.
4. If, in one of the cases referred to above, the President of the International
Court of Justice is prevented from acting or is a national of one of the
parties to the dispute, the Vice-President of the Court or the most senior
member of the Court who is not prevented from acting and is not a national
of one of the parties to the dispute shall appoint the chair of the arbitral
tribunal or an arbitrator.
5. These provisions shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the filling of posts
which have become vacant.
6. The arbitral tribunal shall decide on the basis of the rules of international
law and in particular on the basis of the provisions of this Convention.
7. As regards both procedural and substantive matters, the arbitral tribunal
shall decide by a majority of its members' votes; the absence or abstention
of one of the members of the tribunal appointed by the parties shall not
prevent the tribunal from reaching a decision. In the event of parity
of votes, the chairman shall have the casting vote. The decisions of the
Tribunal shall be binding on the parties. Each party shall bear the costs
of the arbitrator appointed by it and shall share the other costs equally.
For other matters, the arbitral tribunal shall establish its own rules
In the case of a dispute between two Contracting Parties, only one of
which is a Member State of the European Community, which is itself a Contracting
Party, the other Party shall simultaneously transmit its request to that
Member State and to the Community, which shall jointly notify the party
within two months following receipt of the request whether the Member
State, the Community or the Member State and the Community together are
parties to the dispute. If such notification is not given within the appointed
time, both the Member State and the Community shall be regarded as constituting
one and the same party to the dispute for the purposes of applying this
Annex. The same shall obtain when the Member State and the Community are
jointly a party to the dispute.
Protocol of signature
signing the Convention for the Protection of the Rhine, the heads of delegation
in the ICPR agree upon the following points.
The following shall remain unaffected by the Convention:
the Convention of 3 December 1976 for the protection of the Rhine against
Pollution by Chlorides;
the Exchange of letters of 29 April/13 May 1983 on the abovementioned
Convention, which exchange entered into force on 5 July 1985;
the Declaration of 11 December 1986 of the heads of delegation of the
Governments Party to the Agreement of 29 April 1963 concerning the International
Commission for the Protection of the Rhine against Pollution;
the Additional Protocol of 25 September 1991 on the Convention of 3 December
1976 for the protection of the Rhine against Pollution by Chlorides;
the Declaration of 25 September 1991 of the heads of delegation of the
Governments Party to the Agreement of 29 April 1963 concerning the International
Commission for the Protection of the Rhine against Pollution.
"State of the art" and "best available techniques"
are synonymous expressions and, like the expression "best environmental
practice", must be understood as defined in the Convention of 17
March 1992 on the protection and use of transboundary watercourses and
international lakes (Annexes I and II) and the Convention of 22 September
1992 for the protection of the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic
The Commission shall continue to have its seat in Koblenz.
In cases of settlements of disputes between Member States of the European
Community which do not concern any other State, Article 219 of the Treaty
establishing the European Community shall apply.
Done at Bern, April 12th, 1999
For the Governments of
the Federal Republic of Germany:
BALD & Fritz HOLZWARTH
the Kingdom of the Netherlands:
the French Republic: André GADAUD
the Swiss Confederation:
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg: Paul HANSEN
the European Community: