This chapter critically reviews the application of international water law in a Canada/United States context. The widely acknowledged situation with regard to the equitable sharing of benefits between upstream and downstream nations in the Columbia illustrates both the existence, and the practical application, of an emerging principle of customary international water law. The ecosystem approach first articulated in the 1978 GLWQA would later be emulated in subsequent natural resource management regimes elsewhere in the United States, Canada, internationally and globally. The GLWQA demonstrates cooperation and policy harmonization across ten basin states and provinces, and establishes transboundary regional institutions with real decision-making authority operating at a Basin-wide scale, without formal international legal agreement.
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