Transforming Potential Conflict into Cooperation Potential: The Role of International Water Law


International river basins cover more than half of the land's surface. With close to 300 major watercourses shared by two or more states and an ever - increasing demand on the world.s diminishing water resources, there may be some justification in the assertion by certain commentators that - water wars - are imminent. The UN forecasts that more than half of the world's population will suffer direct consequences from water scarcity if the current development patterns continue. The situation is particularly critical in developing countries, leading the world's governments to commit themselves to "halve by 2015, the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation", and also to "develop integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans by 2005" (UN Summit on Development, Johannesburg, 2002). Commendable as these plans may be, what solutions will states find in their competition over shared water resources? This is particularly crucial for states that depend on water supplies that cross their national borders.

This study discusses the relevance and role of international water law in the promotion of cooperation over shared transboundary watercourses. With its focus on actual case studies and through examination of contemporary state practice and detailed analysis of the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention, this work aims to provide water resource experts from all disciplines with an overview of the rules of international law that govern interstate relations over water.

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