International Law and Freshwater
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International Law and Freshwater

The Multiple Challenges

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’.
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Chapter 20: State succession to water treaties: uncertain streams

Christina Leb and Mara Tignino


State succession, the change of sovereignty over a certain territory, often creates political and legal uncertainties. Irrespective of whether this change is due to the emergence of a new State or the transfer of the territory to an existing State, people and resources located in the territory become subject to a new governing entity and new neighborhood relations are created. These aspects and the incertitude about the fate of previously established legal relationships may cause disputes. Universally accepted rules on the legal effects of a change in sovereignty could mitigate or prevent such disputes from emerging; however, State practice is inconsistent in this area. It has been and continues to be characterized by solutions adopted on a case-by-case basis. The 1978 Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect to Treaties was an attempt to provide clarity on the legal regime of succession. Its content was drafted against the background of the experience of State practice during decolonization and, already then, much of it was progressive development classifying diverse State practice and treaties into restrictive categories.

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