Agreement on International Railways in the Arab Mashreq [*]

Done at: Beirut

Date enacted: 2003-04-14

In force: 2005-05-23

Article 1

Adoption of the international railway network

The Parties hereto adopt the international railway network described in Annex I to this Agreement (the “Arab Mashreq International Railway Network”) in consideration of the fact that railways are of international importance in the Arab Mashreq and should therefore be accorded priority in the formulation of national plans for the construction, maintenance and development of the national railway networks of the Parties hereto, while ensuring that the alignment of routes and lines that do not currently exist are in conformity with feasibility studies to be carried out by the countries concerned.

Article 2

Orientation of the axes of the international railway network

The Arab Mashreq International Railway Network described in Annex I to this Agreement consists of the main axes having a north/south and east/west orientation and may include other axes and tracks to be added in the future, in conformity with the provisions of this Agreement.

Article 3

Technical specifications

Within a period of time as short as possible, all the railways currently in service described in Annex I shall be brought into conformity with the technical specifications for existing railways set forth in Annex II to this Agreement. New railways built after the entry into force of this Agreement shall be designed in accordance with the technical specifications defined in Annex II

Article 4

Signature, ratification, acceptance, approval and accession


This Agreement shall be open for signature to members of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) at United Nations House in Beirut from 14 to 17 April 2003, and thereafter at United Nations Headquarters in New York until 31 December 2004.


The members referred to in paragraph 1 of this article may become Parties to this Agreement by:


Signature not subject to ratification, acceptance or approval (definitive signature);


Signature subject to ratification, acceptance or approval, followed by ratification, acceptance or approval; or




Ratification, acceptance, approval or accession shall be effected by the deposit of the requisite instrument with the depository.


States other than ESCWA members may accede to the Agreement upon approval by all ESCWA members Parties thereto, by depositing an instrument of accession with the depository. The Secretariat of the ESCWA Committee on Transport (the “Secretariat”) shall distribute the applications for accession of non-ESCWA member States to the ESCWA members Parties to the Agreement for their approval. Once notifications approving the said application are received from all ESCWA members Parties to the Agreement, the application for accession shall be deemed approved.

Article 5

Entry into force


The Agreement shall enter into force ninety (90) days after the date on which four (4) members of ESCWA have either signed it definitively or deposited an instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.


For each member of ESCWA referred to in article 4, paragraph 1, signing the Agreement definitively or depositing an instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval thereof or accession thereto after the date on which four (4) ESCWA members have either signed it definitively or deposited such an instrument, the Agreement shall enter into force ninety (90) days after the date of that member’s definitive signature or deposit of the instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. For each State other than a member of ESCWA depositing an instrument of accession, the Agreement shall enter into force ninety (90) days after the date of that State’s deposit of that instrument.

Article 6



After the entry into force of the Agreement, any party thereto may propose amendments to the Agreement, including its annexes.


Proposed amendments to the Agreement shall be submitted to the ESCWA Committee on Transport.


Amendments to the Agreement shall be considered adopted if approved by a two -thirds majority of the Parties thereto, present at a meeting convened for that purpose. Amendments to Annex I of the Agreement shall be considered adopted if approved by a two -thirds majority of the Parties thereto present at the meeting, including those directly concerned by the proposed amendment.


The ESCWA Committee on Transport shall, within a period of forty-five (45) days, inform the depositary of any amendment adopted pursuant to paragraph 3 of this article.


The depositary shall notify all Parties hereto of amendments thus adopted, which shall enter into force for all Parties three (3) months after the date of such notification unless objections from more than one third of the Parties are received by the depositary within that period of three (3) months.


No amendments may be made to the Agreement during the period specified in Article 7 below if, upon the withdrawal of one Party, the number of Parties to the Agreement becomes less than four (4) at the end of that period.

Article 7


Any Party may withdraw from this Agreement by written notification addressed to the depositary. Such withdrawal shall take effect twelve (12) months after the date of deposit of the notification unless revoked by the Party prior to the expiration of that period.

Article 8


This Agreement shall cease to be in force if the number of Parties thereto is less than four (4) during any period of twelve (12) consecutive months.

Article 9

Dispute settlement


Any dispute arising between two or more Parties to this Agreement which relates to its interpretation or application and which the Parties to the dispute have not been able to resolve by negotiation or other means of settlement shall be referred to arbitration if any Party so requests. In such a case, the dispute shall be submitted to an arbitral tribunal to which each of the Parties shall appoint one member and the members thus appointed shall agree on the appointment of a president of the arbitral tribunal from outside their number. If no agreement is reached concerning the appointment of the president of the arbitral tribunal within three (3) months from the request for arbitration, any Party may request the Secretary-General of the United Nations, or whomever he delegates, to appoint a president of the tribunal, to which the dispute shall be referred for decision.


The Parties to the dispute shall be bound by the decision to form the arbitral tribunal pursuant to paragraph 1 of this article and by any and all awards handed down by the tribunal. The parties further undertake to defray the costs of arbitration.

Article 10

Limits of application of the Agreement

Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as preventing a Party hereto from taking any action that it considers necessary to its external or internal security or its interests, provided that such action is not contrary to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

Article 11


The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall be the depositary of the Agreement.

Article 12


The annexes to the Agreement and the list of technical terms used therein are integral parts of the Agreement.

In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorized thereto, have signed this Agreement.

Done at Beirut, this fourteenth day of April 2003, in the Arabic, French and English languages, all of which are equally

Annex I

The Arab Mashreq international railway network


Annex II

Schedule of technical specifications for rail network



The Parties to the Agreement, conscious of the salient characteristics of railways with respect to construction and running costs, speed, safety, regularity, personal comfort and environmental conservation, and affirming the importance and necessity of providing railway links between the countries of the region in accordance with a well-studied plan for the construction and development of an international railway network in order to meet future transport needs, protect the environment and facilitate the mo vement of goods and passengers and, as a result, increase the exchange of trade and tourism in the Arab Mashreq, which will greatly promote Arab regional integration, have agreed as follows: