chapter  1
12 Pages

Cooperation or Conflict in Transboundary Water Management: Case Study of South Asia (from Hydrological Sciences Journal)

WithAsit K. Biswas

The management of transboundary rivers has become an important social and political issue in recent years, for a variety of reasons, some valid and others due to linear but erroneous thinking. There are several valid reasons. First, there are many major transboundary rivers and lakes where there are no treaties for water allocation between all the co-basin countries that could provide a guiding framework for water planning and management. Second, even though the Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses was overwhelmingly approved on 21 May 1997 by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, with only three dissenting votes but 33 abstentions (Biswas, 2008a), it has not yet entered into force even 14 years after the initial approval. In recent years (from 2007), there appears to be a slightly increased momentum for its ratification, acceptance, accession or approval, which included countries such as Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Spain, Tunisia and Uzbekistan. A few NGOs, such as the WWF, have launched an initiative to accelerate the ratification process, but it is likely to be several years before the Convention is ratified. The campaign by the NGOs has brought additional attention to the issue of management of transboundary rivers and lakes. However, delays in the ratification of this Convention indicate two contributory factors: (a) management of transboundary water courses is not a priority issue in the world’s political agenda, and (b) the countries that have transboundary rivers appear to prefer to have bilateral or multilateral negotiations between the co-basin countries, and do not appear to be in any special hurry to ratify the Convention.