The Struggle over Transboundary Freshwater Resources: Social and Economic Conflict in the Appropriation and Use of Water along the US-Mexico Border
Recent international attention regarding water resources has focused on their scarcity and uneven distribution in several parts of the world. Some studies suggest that as many as 80 countries, representing 40 per cent of the world’s population, already suffer from serious water shortages in some regions or at some times during the year.2 Water is a fundamental resource to all environmental and societal processes, and disputes over transboundary water resources are increasingly leading to international conflict in several regions of the world. However, efforts to create a general (customary) international law and a forum to solve international water disputes — most notably by the International Law Commission sponsored by the United Nations, the Institut de Droit International, the Second International Water Tribunal, and the International Law Association — are still limited. Most agreements concerning shared water resources are bilateral and relate to specific rivers that form or cross boundaries, or to lakes that straddle borders. These controversies are best resolved when the bilateral relations between the states concerned are otherwise good, when it is in their mutual interest to reach agreement, or when the asymmetry between the states involved is clearly defined and the more powerful state decides to end the dispute.3
KeywordsNorth American Free Trade Agreement Transboundary Water Water Market Central Arizona Project Transboundary Water Resource
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