The Law and Governance of Water Resources
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The Law and Governance of Water Resources

The Challenge of Sustainability

Douglas Fisher

This path-breaking book focuses on the law and legal doctrine within the wider policy context of water resources and analyses the concept of sustainability.
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Chapter 19: Models of Doctrinal Innovation

Douglas Fisher


NORMATIVE STRUCTURES FOR INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT (a) Introduction Neither the international legal system nor national legal systems have yet incorporated sustainable development as an enforceable rule of law. Aspects of sustainable development and its associated principles are in some circumstances emerging as a relevant but subsidiary element of the overall system. The absence of an international legislature means that the introduction of new normative arrangements into international law is a difficult, controversial and lengthy process of diplomacy and negotiation. The development of new principles by the International Court of Justice is similarly a complex process. Much, then, depends upon what states do, not only in relation to each other but also within their own jurisdictions – particularly when their activities and decision-making processes impact upon the interests of other states. Similarly what happens locally impacts upon what happens nationally, and what happens nationally impacts upon what happens internationally and also the other way round. Integrated water resources management requires not only hydrological, technical, institutional and governmental integration but also legal integration by harmonising the norms of international, national and local regimes. (b) Trends for the Future Before looking at some legal models, let us focus upon what they are trying to achieve. We begin with the three goals that have been identified for a ‘sustainable water policy’ for the arid western areas of the United States of America. These are: • efficiency; • respect for and protection of nature; • equity and social justice.1 Such a policy ‘balances efficiency, respect for nature and equity as...

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