Sharing Transboundary Resources: International Law and Optimal Resource Use

Sharing Transboundary Resources: International Law and Optimal Resource Use

Sharing Transboundary Resources: International Law and Optimal Resource Use

Sharing Transboundary Resources: International Law and Optimal Resource Use

Synopsis

Why do states often fail to cooperate, using transboundary natural resources inefficiently and unsustainably? Benvenisti examines the contemporary international norms and policy recommendations that could provide incentives for states to cooperate. His approach is multi-disciplinary, proposing transnational institutions for the management of transboundary resources. Although global water policy issues seem set to remain a cause for concern for the foreseeable future, this study provides a new approach to the problem of freshwater, and will interest international environmentalists and lawyers, international relations scholars and practitioners.

Excerpt

For the thousands of Muslim worshippers who gathered in mosques across the Middle East one Friday morning, as the second millennium was drawing to an end, only God could end the misery caused by the worst drought experienced in their lifetimes. Thousands of Jewish worshippers joined them the following morning, fervently reciting the daily prayer for rain. Indeed, as these prayers suggested, the occurrence of drought was a matter beyond human control. Yet the praying, which the political leaders ceremoniously attended, furthered the wrong perception of water shortage as a problem of dwindling supplies. It deemphasized the governments' responsibility for the inability to manage responsibly the conflicting demands for water and to reduce waste. Indeed, much of the plight of the worshippers was a result of human conflict and government failure to correct inefficiencies in water management systems and to prevent environmental degradation.

Dating back three millennia, the Middle East has been a region where impressive instances of efficient small-scale demand-management systems have thrived. Villagers have managed to design and implement collective mechanisms for the shared management of small springs, aquifers, and floods. Thanks to these ancient systems, many of these villages survive to this very day. One would have hoped that the emergence of the modern state in the Middle East towards the end of the second millennium would have produced similar successful arrangements on a regional or even national scale. But the governments in the Middle East have failed to do so and, instead, have caused much dissipation and ruin of natural resources. The picture is similar in other parts of the world: efficient small-scale water management institutions . . .

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