Transforming potential conflict into cooperation potential: the role of international water law

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

International river basins cover more than half of the land’s surface. With nearly 300 major watercourses shared by two or more states and ever-increasing demand on the world’s diminishing water resources, there may be some justification in the assertion by certain commentators that “water wars” are imminent in the near future. The UN forecasts that more than half of the world’s population will suffer the direct consequences of water scarcity if current development patterns continue (UNEP, 2002). The situation is particularly critical in developing countries, which has provoked collective action on the part of national governments, leading them to commit to “halve by 2015, the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation,” and also to “develop integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans by 2005” (UN, 2002).

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