Project

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Governing Water: The Contribution of International Law to Cooperation on Transboundary Freshwater Resources

Applicant Boisson de Chazournes Laurence
Number 124610
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de droit international public Faculté de droit Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Legal sciences
Start/End 01.10.2009 - 30.11.2011
Approved amount 234'883.00
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Keywords (12)

International Law; Law on Transboundary Freshwater Resources; Freshwater Cooperation and Governance; Cooperation Mechanisms; International Environmental Law; Climate Change; Non-State Actors; international governance; natural resources; cooperation; transboundary freshwaters; environmental law

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Project summary: Future scenarios on the utilization and development of the Earth’s freshwater resources largely focus on the conflict potential inherent in competing demands over the resource, disregarding the opportunities for cooperation within the context of managing transboundary water systems. This project analyzes the contribution of international law to State cooperation on international freshwater systems.

Objective: Investigating the many forms in which State cooperation manifests itself, the objective is to determine in what way international water law has developed in order to reinforce existing cooperation among riparian States of international water systems, and to create cooperation where not yet established.

Contribution of the project: Public interest in expertise on sustainable development and peaceful governance of transboundary freshwater resources is growing amid concerns over the impacts of water scarcity on humans and the ecosystem. The image of “future water wars” is regularly evoked by the media, and a large number of publications exist, that take a conflict approach with respect to the topic of transboundary water management. This approach does not fully reflect realities on the ground. Cooperation procedures including international treaties and institutional mechanisms that have been established among co-riparian States have illustrated that cooperation rather than conflict is the preferred approach in most cases. International law has played and continues to play an important role in developing new procedures for cooperation. Yet, principles such as the general obligation to cooperate and the regular exchange of information, and obligations emanating there from have so far received little attention in legal literature. This project will generate new knowledge pertinent to States sharing international freshwater systems and will contribute to the knowledge base on conflict prevention and resolution tools of international law with respect to natural resources management.

Context and methodology: The role of international law in establishing and enhancing cooperation has so far received little attention. The development of a systematic knowledge base on the theoretical foundations for State cooperation on transboundary water resources is however a vital prerequisite for the establishment and enhancement of this cooperation, as well as for conflict prevention and the resolution of conflicts, where they emerge. This project analyzes existing norms with respect to their scope of application on the universal, regional, and basin level and their capability to adapt to new challenges such as climat
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
The Right to Water and Sanitation in Post-Conflict Legal Mechanisms: an Emerging Regime?
Tignino Mara (2014), The Right to Water and Sanitation in Post-Conflict Legal Mechanisms: an Emerging Regime?, in Erika Weinthal Jessica Troell and Mikiyasu Nakayama (ed.), Earthscan , London , 383-402.
Cooperation in the Law of Transboundary Water Resources
Leb Christina (2013), Cooperation in the Law of Transboundary Water Resources, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Reconciling the UN Watercourses Convention with recent developments in customary international law
Tignino Mara, McIntyre Owen (2013), Reconciling the UN Watercourses Convention with recent developments in customary international law, in Loures Flavia , Rieu-Clarke Alistair (ed.), Earthscan , London , 286-302.
Environmental Protection and Access to Water: the Challenges Ahead
Boisson de Chazournes Laurence, Leb Christina, Tignino Mara (2011), Environmental Protection and Access to Water: the Challenges Ahead, in M. van der Valk and P. Keenan (ed.), UNESCO-IHE , Delft , 9-24.
Freshwater and International Law – Multiple Challenges
Leb Christina, Tignino Mara (2011), Freshwater and International Law – Multiple Challenges, in Environmental Policy and Law, 41 (4/5 ), 218-221.
Gestion internationale de l’eau et développements du droit international
Boisson de Chazournes Laurence, Tignino Mara (2011), Gestion internationale de l’eau et développements du droit international, in Le Prestre Philippe (ed.), Presses de l'Université de Laval , Québec , 245-262.
L'eau et la guerre: éléments pour un régime juridique
Tignino Mara (2011), L'eau et la guerre: éléments pour un régime juridique, Bruyant , Bruxelles.
Peut-on résoudre les conflits transfrontaliers par des règles de préférence dans les utilisations de l’eau ?
Christina Leb (2011), Peut-on résoudre les conflits transfrontaliers par des règles de préférence dans les utilisations de l’eau ?, in Société française pour le droit international, Colloque d'Orléans, L'eau en droit international , Orléans Pedone, Paris.
The Right to Water and Sanitation in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding
Tignino Mara (2011), The Right to Water and Sanitation in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, in Water International , 36(2 ), 241-248.
The Role and Relevance of the Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers in the European Context
Tignino Mara, Allan Andrew, Loures Flavia (2011), The Role and Relevance of the Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers in the European Context, in Journal for European Environmental & Planning Law , 8 (3 ), 231-251.
Le règlement des différends internationaux relatifs à l'eau
Boisson de Chazournes Laurence, Tignino Mara (2010), Le règlement des différends internationaux relatifs à l'eau, in Conseil d'Etat (ed.), La Documentation française , Paris , 489-514.
Les contours du principe de la participation publique et la protection des ressources en eau transfrontières
Tignino Mara (2010), Les contours du principe de la participation publique et la protection des ressources en eau transfrontières, in Vertigo - La revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement, Hors série 7, 1-15.
Water, international peace and security
Tignino Mara (2010), Water, international peace and security, in International Review of the Red Cross , 92(879 ), 647 -674.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Secrétariat de la Convention sur l'eau d'Helsinki Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Institut des sciences de l'environnement Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
IHP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Environmental Law Institute United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
XIV IWRA World Water Congress Talk given at a conference Public Participation in Water Resources Management  25.09.2011 Porto de Galhinas, Brazil Tignino Mara;
XIV IWRA World Water Congress Talk given at a conference The Right to Water in a Transboundary Context : Emergence of Seminal Trends 25.09.2011 Porto de Galinhas, Brazil Leb Christina;
XIV IWRA World Water Congress Poster Platform for International Water Law 25.09.2011 Porto de Galhinas, Brazil Leb Christina; Tignino Mara;
The Environment and Human Rights : the International Community Responses to Local and Global Challenges  Talk given at a conference International Law and Access to Water 14.09.2011 Washington DC , United States of America Boisson de Chazournes Laurence;
International Specialized Conference on Watershed & River Basin Management Talk given at a conference International Legal Frameworks for Adaptation on Transboundary Rivers  13.09.2011 Recife, Brazil , Brazil Leb Christina;
Water and International Conflicts Talk given at a conference The Legal Status of Water in Armed Conflicts  03.02.2011 Geneva, Switzerland Tignino Mara;
UNESCO Conference: Transboundary Aquifers - Challenges and New Directions Talk given at a conference A Critical Analysis of the 2008 Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers in the European Context 06.12.2010 Paris , France Tignino Mara;
UNESCO Conference: Transboundary Aquifers – Challenges and New Directions Talk given at a conference Dig Deep: Conflict Prevention through Protection of Vital Human Water Needs 06.12.2010 Paris, France , France Leb Christina;
The right to water and water rights in a changing world Talk given at a conference Environmental Protection and Access to Water : the Challenges Ahead  22.09.2010 Delft, The Netherlands , Netherlands Boisson de Chazournes Laurence;
Stockholm World Water Week Talk given at a conference The Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses 09.09.2010 Stockholm , Sweden Tignino Mara;
Annual Colloquium of the French Society of International Law Talk given at a conference Peut-on résoudre les conflits transfrontaliers par des règles de préférence dans les utilisations de l’eau ? 03.06.2010 Orléans, France , France Leb Christina;
Conferencia da terra. Forum internacional do meio ambiente. Individual talk Economic management of water resources 26.05.2010 Pernabuco , Brazil Boisson de Chazournes Laurence;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Journée du développement durable Poster 14.05.2011 Université de Genève, Suisse , Switzerland Leb Christina; Tignino Mara;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Freshwater and International Law: the Multiple Challenges Web Western Switzerland International 2011

Awards

Title Year
Christina Leb wins the prize for the best article entitled « The Right to Water in a Transboundary Context : Emergence of Seminal Rrends » in the review Water International of 2012. 2014
Prize in honor of Professor Walther Hug for the PhD thesis of Christina Leb 2014

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
136078 Freshwater and International Law: The Multiple Challenges 01.07.2011 Scientific Conferences
138386 Non-State Actors and The Management of International Freshwater Resources 01.01.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Future scenarios on the utilization and development of the Earth’s freshwater resources largely focus on the conflict potential inherent in the competing demands over the resource. The image of “future water wars” is regularly evoked by the media, and a large number of publications exist, that take a conflict approach with respect to the topic of tranbsoundary water management. Yet, this approach does not fully reflect realities on the ground. Cooperation procedures and institutional mechanisms that have been established among riparian States of international waters have illustrated that cooperation, rather than conflict, is the preferred approach in most cases.The proposed research project will focus precisely on this cooperation with the objective to identify new trends in the design of legal procedures and institutional frameworks for cooperation. In particular, it will analyze the contribution of international law to State cooperation on transboundary freshwater resources. This is a novel approach not only with respect to literature on future transboundary water challenges in general, but also with respect to literature on the law of transboundary water resources. The features of cooperation on transboundary freshwater systems have not yet been studied carefully and systematically from an international law perspective. Yet, there is a need for this kind of analysis. Public interest in expertise on sustainable development and peaceful governance of transboundary freshwater resources is growing amid concerns over the impacts of climate change and water scarcity on humans and the ecosystem. The interest of researchers to explore this topic from a legal perspective is picking up. The proposed project intends to respond to these developments and nurture the reflection. Today, only a small number of international lawyers concern themselves with the law applicable to transboundary freshwater resources. This project will contribute to the strengthening of existing expertise and the development of new expertise by, among other, giving young researchers the opportunity to specialize in this area and by generating and promoting the dissemination of new knowledge.International law has played and continues to play an important role in establishing institutional frameworks and in continuously developing new procedures for cooperation on transboundary water systems. The proposed research project will analyze this role under two research components. The first component will identify existing principles and norms of cooperation, such as obligations of mutual information exchange, consultation and negotiation, as well as their limitations. It will also analyze trends in the development of new norms and practices. The second component will explore the role of international law in establishing institutional frameworks that promote cooperation, and the adequacy of different framework structures to carry out this function. In addition, the second component will analyze the dynamics of institutional adaptation to new challenges; that is the adoption of new procedures and mechanisms and the transformation of institutions themselves.
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