Table of Contents

Water and the Law

Water and the Law

Towards Sustainability

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series

Edited by Michael Kidd, Loretta Feris, Tumai Murombo and Alejandro Iza

Water and the Law examines the critical relationship between law and the management of water resources in the context of ensuring environmental sustainability. It highlights the central importance of integrated water resources management and cooperation in achieving sustainability. The book considers two broad themes: how law can contribute to the sustainability of water itself and how the law’s regulation of water can contribute to the sustainability of life – both human life as well as that of other species in their natural environment.

Chapter 2: ‘Dynamic cooperation’ – The evolution of transboundary water cooperation

Patricia Wouters

Subjects: environment, environmental governance and regulation, environmental law, water, law - academic, environmental law, water law


The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation. Bertrand Russell. Water is the driving force of all nature. Leonardo Da Vinci. Some of the world’s leading thinkers are exploring ‘cooperation’ as the foundation for global peace and security, and even to explain life on Earth, building upon and extending significantly the parameters of past discourse on this topic. In The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker examines various models of cooperation and concludes in his extensive study that ‘Humans are not innately good (just as they are not innately evil), but they come equipped with motives that can orient them away from violence and toward cooperation and altruism.’ Nowak, an evolutionary biologist, considers ‘cooperation’ to be central to the ‘four-billion-year-old puzzle of life’ and essential for survival in the future. In his book, Super Cooperators, Nowak declares that ‘We are … staring into the abyss of environmental catastrophe … Although we are teetering on the brink of disaster, we are also on the brink of advancing to the next level of cooperation. I believe that climate change will force us to enter a new chapter of cooperation.’ From a legal perspective, cooperation is the bedrock of international law, prescribing limits on absolute state sovereignty in a myriad of ways. The law of nations, reflected largely in the UN Charter, is premised on the promotion and sustenance of peaceful international relations, regional peace and security, and in ensuring and advancing the fundamental freedoms of all.

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