April 17, 2022

What Is the Role of International Water Law in Transboundary Cooperation

To illustrate the evolution of customary international law, consider this analogy. Suppose there is a field between two villages, with no road through the field. People first tend to wander from one village to another at will. Gradually, most people will follow a certain line, perhaps the shortest route or perhaps the easiest route, or perhaps the most convenient route for the most difficult hikers – hikers whose kick carries a more decisive path in the landscape. For some reason, a certain path will arise, and gradually it will become a path. Eventually, everyone will agree that this road is the only right way to get from village to village, although no one can say exactly when this idea prevailed. At this point, people will dismiss others as intruders if others choose a different path – at this point there is a legal norm and not just a factual description of a path. What amounts to an “equitable” share of the waters of an international watershed is often unclear. Some have argued that “just” division must mean equal division.

Any examination of fair use standards shows that while equal access is guaranteed, equal shares are not guaranteed. The standards can be found in Article 6 of the United Nations Convention, which contains a long list of relevant factors: Rhine Case Study [ – 1.84 MB] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Hydrological Programme (IHP), PCCP series. 2003 Experiences of conflict and cooperation in the Rhine watershed prove the usefulness of river basin organisations. This publication describes the main organizations with their legal context, their tasks and obligations and their development. The theoretical aspects of conflict prevention and resolution are illustrated by the water-related conflicts along the Rhine. These cases include flooding, shipping, fishing, water pollution, salt drainage and accidental spills. Common waters – Common possibilities. World Water Day 22 March.

Transboundary waters in the ESCWA region [ – 1.19 MB]United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNECE). 2009 This fact sheet describes the general principles of international water law and the main international conventions on shared water; It also describes the main transboundary river basins and common aquifers in the ESCWA region. “Fierce national competition for water resources has raised fears that water problems may contain the seeds of violent conflict. If all the peoples of the world work together, a safe and sustainable future for water can be ours. Kofi AnnanFormer UN Secretary-General >> photo essays: World Water Day 2009. Land, Limited Resources: Sharing Water Across Borders There are many reasons to be optimistic. Since 1948, there have been 37 acute conflicts in the field of water, while during the same period, about 295 international water agreements have been negotiated and signed. These include the UNECE Water Convention, a legal framework for transboundary water cooperation worldwide, which is initially only open to countries in the pan-European area, but has been available worldwide since 2003. However, about two-thirds of the world`s transboundary rivers do not have a cooperative management framework. Source: Human Development Report 2006. Beyond scarcity: electricity, poverty and the global water crisis. Chapter 6.

UNDP, 2006 Second, the principles of the LTI can have an ex ante function, as they shape negotiations and other cooperation processes at the global level and in particular at the basin level. This is largely due to the procedural rather than normative nature of many IWL standards. Footnote 2 Many of the principles of the LBI, such as the principle of fair and equitable utilization, were not intended as enforceable mechanisms to punish ex-post states, but as ex-ante guidelines for the behaviour of states that support a greater good – the cooperative and sustainable management of shared water resources. Therefore, the principles of the LBI are particularly relevant in the negotiation process and are therefore part not only of an international legal regime, but also of water diplomacy tools. The principles of international water law (WL) are often invoked to resolve disagreements and conflicts between riparian States on a common watercourse, with various parties calling on them to steer States` behaviour towards cooperative solutions that benefit water resources and broader regional cooperation and peace. This document argues that it is particularly important to recognize the role that the principles of the LFH play in negotiation processes, i.e. in an ex-ante and extrajudicial function that provides a framework for cooperation and contributes to legislation, making them important tools of international relations and water diplomacy. First, the principles of the MLCBI are particularly relevant in negotiation processes […].

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