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International Law and Freshwater

International Law and Freshwater

The Multiple Challenges

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Edited by Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Christina Leb and Mara Tignino

International Law and Freshwater connects recent legal developments through the breadth and synergies of a multidisciplinary analysis. It addresses such critical issues as water security, the right to water, international cooperation and dispute resolution, State succession to transboundary watercourse treaties, and facets of international economic law, including trade in ‘virtual water’ and the impacts of ‘land grabs’.

Chapter 19: India and Pakistan’s truculent cooperation: can it continue?

Undala Alam

Subjects: environment, environmental law, water, law - academic, environmental law, public international law, water law


Water is an elusive resource because it flows. Unlike other natural resources such as land, minerals and oil, which are static, a line cannot be drawn across a river or an aquifer to dictate ownership. By moving, water creates a hydrological link between users at different points within a river basin. This hydrological interdependency means, for example, that water extracted for irrigation in one part of the basin can affect water quality and quantity elsewhere. Water’s continual reincarnation through the hydrologic cycle makes it a resource that can only be harnessed for a duration, as illustrated by Egypt’s Aswan Dam. The 1959 Agreement with the Sudan allocated Egypt 55.5 km3 per year of water from the Nile River. To drive economic growth, Egypt built the Aswan Dam to provide water for irrigation and electricity generation. Yet, forced to store water in a hot and arid plain, the dam’s reservoir, Lake Nasser, loses between 6–13 km3 and 10–16 km3 of water through evaporation every year, which equates to approximately 20–30 percent of the stored water.

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