Reflections on the normative prescription of sustainable development in recent transboundary water treaty practice

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    The concept of sustainable development has gained considerable attention in the field of natural resources law and policy since the United Nations Rio Conference of 1992. The practical application of the concept has, however, proved to be one of the major challenges of the 21st Century. Due to conflicting interests between various groups, the concept has struggled to be transformed from abstract theory to practical application. The field of transboundary water law and policy is not immune from this problem. While the concept has been mentioned in most agreements dealing with transboundary waters, it is not always clear what the normative prescription of such inclusion is. This can be seen by the varying attention that the concept, and in particular its core values, has received in recent transboundary water agreements. While the agreements show a clear commitment on the side of States to work towards sustainable development, they also demonstrate that the concept has yet to be clearly prescribed in legal terms. A review of recent transboundary water agreements leads to the conclusion that, while there are some positive signs, considerable work remains to be done in order to produce practical mechanisms designed to effectively and efficiently balance the need for development with the need to protect the environment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)572-579
    Number of pages8
    JournalWater International
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


    • Sustainable development
    • International water law
    • Transboundary watercourses
    • State practice
    • Water sharing


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