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

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.


The paper finds that although the world faces a freshwater crisis and water disputes are inevitable, “water wars” must and can be avoided. States have shown time and again that they are willing and ready to pursue peaceful water relations through the use of the rules of international water law in their management of transboundary waters.


The paper recommends an effective institutional mechanism that deals with the issues of implementation, including dispute avoidance, as fundamental to the most successful treaty regimes. The introduction of more formal mechanisms for monitoring compliance, based on non-confrontational and supportive reporting and review processes, illustrates yet another instrument aimed at ensuring cooperative relations among watercourse states.

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