Managing Transboundary Water Resources in the Aral Sea Basin: In Search of a Solution

This paper examines the complex problems facing the Central Asian republics in the Aral Sea Basin. It reviews the most recent draft agreements and initiatives among the Aral Sea Basin states, from the perspective of legal and institutional effectiveness, with reference to the principles of international water law.


The paper finds that the Aral Sea Basin states seek to develop an effective legal and institutional framework for the cooperative management of scarce water resources, a process aided by up to date information on the environmental, economic and human conditions in the Aral Sea Basin. It further adds that trade in natural resources may provide additional options by reducing the competition for limited water resources while addressing the energy needs of all riparians.


The paper views the recent attempts to meet the needs of all riparians through trade in natural resources are as a promising development. It emphasizes on the role of legal and institutional mechanisms in cooperative efforts to manage transboundary water resources in the Aral Sea Basin. It adds that improved communication among national governments and the willingness to seek consultation with other riparians before taking actions that cause harm to others can help avoid conflicts in the region. It calls for attention to geopolitical considerations particularly vis a vis Afghanistan.

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