Keywords: Aral Sea, dispute resolution, institution building, regional cooperation, water law
Managing transboundary water resources in the Aral Sea Basin: in search of a solution
TThis paper examines the complex problems facing the Central Asian republics in the Aral Sea Basin. Confronted with unsustainable economic practices, environmental degradation and serious social problems, the Aral Sea Basin states seek to develop an effective legal and institutional framework for the cooperative management of scarce water resources. Up to date information on the environmental, economic and human conditions in the Aral Sea Basin provides the context for an analysis of efforts to manage transboundary water resources in the Soviet period and among the independent republics. The most recent draft agreements and initiatives among the Aral Sea Basin states are reviewed from the perspective of legal and institutional effectiveness, with reference to the principles of international water law. Finally, recent attempts to meet the needs of all riparians through trade in natural resources are viewed as a promising development. This strategy could provide solutions based on a more holistic approach to natural resources, while recognising the historical, geopolitical and natural characteristics of the region.