It is a commonplace today that per capita availability of fresh water is shrinking. In addition, it is well known that some 60 per cent of global freshwater flows are contained in the 263 river basins that are shared by two or more countries, and that around 40 per cent of the human population lives in these international basins. These facts underscore the necessity of cooperation between states sharing fresh water, whether it is on the surface or underground. And yet internal political forces often lead countries to maximize their use of shared water resources without considering adequately the needs of their neighbors and co-riparians. Shrinking availability of water will only exacerbate this tendency, resulting in the potential for increased conflict. These factors demonstrate the importance of generally accepted legal norms governing the use by states of shared freshwater resources. A set of such principles is contained in the 1997 United Nations Watercourses Convention. The Convention, which is largely a codification of customary international law, contains no provision corresponding to the general principle of “sovereignty of aquifer States” in the 2008 ILC draft articles on Transboundary Aquifers. The ILC’s Aquifers articles should be harmonized with the UN Convention to provide proper guidance to states sharing transboundary groundwater.
ISARM2010 International Conference: Transboundary Aquifers: Challenges and New Directions
Sovereignty and Cooperative Management of Shared Water Resources In a Time of Shrinking Availability: The Role of International Law 114 (ISARM2010 International Conference: Transboundary Aquifers: Challenges and New Directions, UNESCO, Dec. 6-8, 2010).