The Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses 1977: A Way towards Regional Cooperation on Trans-boundary Water Disputes

Ph.D. scholar, Faculty of Law, Delhi University, India.

Volume III, Issue III, 2020

The paper presents perspectives from Asian subcontinent to address the issue of “Transboundary Water Disputes” which are set to increase in near future due to decades of bad water management, overuse, population stress and climate change etc. The shared water resource are mostly governed by specific multilateral agreements / treaties etc entered into by concerned states. However, these agreements do not provide for concrete enforcement mechanism or default liabilities of non compliant state. Furthermore the agreements and treatise are often influenced by asymmetric political power connotations. When it comes to using a water resource, each riparian state wants to build dams, reservoir to achieve maximum utilization from water but ignores its adverse affect on other riparian states as well as the water resource itself. Absence of a dedicated regional institution for settlement of transboundary water dispute is to be noted too.

The paper then explores and discuss key provisions of The Convention On The Law Of The Non-Navigational Uses Of International Watercourses 1977, which is the only global instrument which codifies modern law principles for settling dispute and sharing of an International Shared Watercourse. It also calls for harmonizing existing and future water agreements with the convention to make them more comprehensive by incorporating principles and measures such as equitable and reasonable utilization of water,obligation to not to cause significant harm, fact finding commissions and establishing a joint institution for dispute settlement.

It is argued in the end that the convention ratified or otherwise can provide a way forward towards more peaceful settlement of transboundary water disputes while promoting spirit of cooperation and community of interest among nations with respect to optimal utilization and preservation of shared water resource. The same is necessary of present time and future generations.

Keywords: Transboundary water dispute, water dispute settlement, convention on the law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses 1977, equitable and reasonable utilization, principles of allocating shared water, hydro politics, hydro-cooperation


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