The Multiple Challenges
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Christina Leb and Mara Tignino
Chapter 18: Mediation of international water disputes — the Indus, the Jordan, and the Nile Basins interventions
Actual and potential disputes over the sharing and management of international watercourses are on the rise. This situation is exacerbated by a number of factors, the most important of which are the large number of shared watercourses, and the steady growth in population that is leading to more demands for water resources. It should be recalled that more than 300 river basins are shared by two or more states, and “these basins cover about 45% of the earth’s land surface, account for about 80% of global river flow and affect about 40% of the world’s population.” In addition, more than 200 aquifers are shared by two or more states. Although more than 3600 treaties on shared watercourses have been signed since AD 805, the majority of those agreements relate to navigation and boundaries, and only about “300 are non-navigational and cover issues related to water quantity, water quality and hydropower.” The absence of a globally binding treaty for regulating the sharing and uses of international watercourses is another factor for the rise of disputes. Although adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in May 1997, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (Watercourses Convention, or the Convention) is still to command the necessary number of ratifications and accession to come into force.
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