The application of equitable and reasonable utilisation to transboundary water resources disputes
: lessons from international practice

  • Patricia Jones

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Water resources located in more than one country are complex systems governed by customary international law embodied in a rule known as equitable and reasonable utilisation, a recent development in international law not yet been applied by an international tribunal to resolve a dispute or to allocate transboundary water resources between countries. Water scarcity on a global scale has reached critical proportions with 1.1 billion people without access to sufficient safe water for personal and domestic use; over half that number depend on transboundary watercourses that will disappear over the next century. Conflicts of use over shared water resource have the potential to escalate into armed conflict; certainty in the peaceful means to avoid and resolve disputes is needed. The thesis examines international procedural practice and jurisprudence applying equitable principles in a case study to illustrate how equitable and reasonable utilisation may be applied by an international tribunal. The survey of international practice will inform States about procedural options for dispute avoidance and resolution in disputes over the use of transboundary water resources.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPatricia Wouters (Supervisor)


    • Equitable and reasonable utilization
    • Transboundary watercourses
    • Water conflicts
    • International law

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