Research Handbook on International Water Law
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Research Handbook on International Water Law

Edited by Stephen C. McCaffrey, Christina Leb and Riley T. Denoon

The Research Handbook on International Water Law surveys the field of the law of shared freshwater resources. In some thirty chapters, it covers subjects ranging from the general principles operative in the field and international groundwater law to the human right to water and whether international water law is prepared to cope with climate disruption. The authors are internationally recognized experts in the field, most with years of experience. The Research Handbook is edited by three scholars and practitioners whose publications and work deal with the law of international watercourses.
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Chapter 9: The application of the general principles and key obligations to internationally shared groundwater

María Milanés-Murcia


Most international shared aquifers lack agreements, policies and institutional arrangement necessary to effectively and efficiently manage groundwater. A current example is the U.S.-Mexico border region, which reflects the general trend of minimum regulation on transboundary groundwater in international law. The international instrument regulating the management of transboundary aquifers in conjunctive use with surface water is the 1997 Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, which reflects the principles of international water law. Regarding fossil aquifers, the International Law Commission (ILC) Resolution on confined transboundary groundwater 1994 recognized that confined aquifers, ‘groundwater not related to an international watercourse’, need specific rules. The 1992 ECE Water Convention could cover fossil aquifers, as long as they are intersected by a border. In 2008, the ILC adopted the Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers. It provides helpful guidance concerning the management of this precious resource.

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