Approaching the Mekong in a Time of Turbulence

  • Peter A. CoclanisEmail author
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 64)


Disputes regarding trans-boundary waters are almost always fraught with difficulty, so it is no surprise that disagreements over rights to the Mekong are proving problematic. Not only are the six nation-states comprising the GMS quite different from one another, but one—the PRC—is a great power. The fact that the source of the Mekong is located on the Tibetan Plateau—that is, within the territorial bounds of the PRC obviously complicates matters further regarding water rights. This paper will address issues regarding governance over the Mekong, issues becoming increasingly pressing every year because of climate change, on the one hand, and upstream dam-building/river diversion schemes, on the other. In so doing, the author will examine several approaches to/rationales for river governance—first-recourse governmental regulation, Chinese IR theories, natural law/environmental ethics, etc.—but will make the case for the efficacy of a transactions-cost approach to addressing issues of trans-boundary water rights on the Mekong. This more voluntaristic approach—which emphasizes efficiency and the accurate ascertainment and allocation, and effective enforcement of property rights regarding concerned parties, public and private—is based loosely on the work of Ronald Coase.


Mekong River Dams Externalities Governance: Coase 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Research InstituteUniversity of North Carolina-Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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