The use of international watercourses, that is, rivers and lakes shared by two or more states, has long been the object of numerous international agreements.
States enter agreements with each other regarding the distribution of the water itself as a resource, maritime use of the waterway, or the extraction of water resources (fish stocks, minerals, energy, etc.). International watercourses have also been used as dumps for household and industrial waste. Specific stipulations prohibiting pollution have therefore been included in the relevant inter-state accords.
In a new dissertation at the Department of Law, Stockholm University in Sweden, Katak Malla reviews the development of regulations in international law in this field. He especially identifies the problems facing states today when it comes to international waterways, including water shortage and drought, flooding, over-consumption of resources, and water pollution, none of which results from insufficient regulation by international law. The problem is the failure to apply the agreed regulations. He also elucidates the reasons that underlie the reluctance of states to fulfill their pledges. The central problem is that states perceive a conflict between environmental protection and economic growth.
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