Water

Introduction

Water - Research Guide International Law

The Law of International Watercourses is evolving with increasing importance despite its relative youth as a subject of public international law and the fact that much of the law is emerging but not as yet well established law. From times of Antiquity, when early civilizations settled along the great rivers of the world, water has played an important role in economic and social development. Apart from domestic consumption, navigation was the most important use of water, and early doctrine and State practice reflect this. Following the Industrial Revolution, competition over the non-navigational uses of international watercourses spurred the development of international water law. In recent years rules have been developed and codified through the work of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, institutions and associations for international law, including the International Law Association (ILA) and the Institut de droit international (IDI). Central is the work of the UN International Law Commission (ILC), which led to the adoption of the Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1997. The entry into force of this convention and the recent amendment of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Helsinki, 17 March 1992) to open it up to non-UNECE States have given a boost to this field of international law. As water scarcity and increasing environmental pollution will inevitably result in more disputes over international watercourses in the future and, at the extreme, in armed conflict, the further codification and progressive development of the law of international watercourses is essential to prevent this.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research in the field of the Law of International Watercourses. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → International waterways and subject heading (keyword) International Watercourses are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

Bibliography

Reference works

Recent Books (2012-2018)

Leading articles

Documents

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies

Systematic classification → Territory and jurisdiction

New titles

Please, check our bibliographic updates on International Watercourses. Revised and updated, 17 July 2014:

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Librarian's choice

  • Boelens, R., T. Perreault and J. Vos (eds.), Water Justice, Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 2018. Showcase item

    Water justice is becoming an ever-more pressing issue in times of increasing water-based inequalities and discrimination. Megacities, mining, forestry, industry and agribusiness claim an increasingly large share of available surface and groundwater reserves. Water grabbing and pollution generate poverty and endanger ecosystems' sustainability. Beyond large, visible injustices, the book also unfolds the many 'hidden' water world injustices, subtly masked as 'rational', 'equitable' and 'democratic'. It features critical conceptual approaches, including analysis of environmental, social, cultural and legal issues surrounding the distribution and management of water. Illustrated with case studies of historic and contemporary water injustices and contestations around the world, the book lays new ground for challenging current water governance forms and unequal power structures. It also provides inspiration for building alternative water realities. With contributions from renowned scholars, this is an indispensable book for students, researchers and policymakers interested in water governance, environmental policy and law, and political geography.

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Database

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The Lecture Series contains a permanent collection of lectures of enduring value on virtually every subject of international law given by leading international law scholars and practitioners from different regions, legal systems, cultures and sectors of the legal profession. Lectures on the Law of International Watercourses by Stephen C. McCaffrey, Salman M.A. Salman, Chusei Yamada and Eyal Benvenisti.

Blogs

  • UPEACE/Peace Palace Library Lecture: Judge Kenneth Keith and PCA Legal Counsel Judith Levine on International Water Disputes

    On Wednesday January 28, 2015, the fourth of a series of Lectures on Peacebuilding in Progress was held at the Academy Building of the Peace Palace, The Hague. The lectures on Peacebuilding are organised by the UPEACE Centre The Hague and the Peace Palace Library.

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  • International Water Law: Recent Developments

    International water law is on the move. It is evolving with increasing importance despite its relative youth as a subject of public international law. The entry into force of the 1997 Watercourses Convention and the recent amendment of the 1992 Water Convention to open it up to non-UNECE States have given a boost to this field of international law. It is important and encouraging to see that the recently established universal norms have been nurturing each other and have inspired new agreements on individual river basins and aquifers. Further cooperation is still needed, however. International law is a recognized means for supporting and developing this.

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  • Canal Digging

    Two big canal digging plans are under way: the Interoceanic-Nicaragua Canal and the Istanbul Canal. The construction of this new canal brings into focus the 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regimes of the Straits, which regulates the transit through the Straits Region. Will this new Canal undermine the principles of transit and transportation liberty, as is stipulated in Article 1 and 2. Is it time to revise the Montreux convention adapting it to modern views and situations?

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  • 40 Years of the Ramsar Convention : Appraisal and Outlook

    On 2 February 1971, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was adopted. The original Contracting Parties of the Convention were driven by an anxiety that migratory waterbirds were in increasing danger because of loss of their habitats. And yet in their wisdom they created a convention focused on wetland ecosystems rather than just wetland birds.

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  • Scheldt River Dispute (Part II) : Hedwige Polder

    The Scheldt is a transboundary river which originates in North-Western France and runs through Western Belgium and the South-West of the Netherlands. The Scheldt Estuary is shared between Belgium and the Netherlands. Since the separation of Belgium from the Netherlands in 1839, the free navigation of the Scheldt and the maintenance and improvement of the navigation channel have been a bone of contention and legal controversy.

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  • Transboundary Water Cooperation in the Newly Independent States

    With the emergence of the Newly Independent States (NIS) in the 1990s, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, new borders cut through Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. As a result, many water allocation and pollution problems that were previously national issues within the Soviet Union have become transboundary issues.

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 Regional Organizations

See also

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Systematic classification → Territory and jurisdiction