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UN Watercourses Convention: Can it revitalise the Mekong Agreement 20 years on?

International rivers, such as the Mekong, are crucial arteries carrying the lifeblood of freshwater that sustains human existence and ecosystems around the world.

By Mekong Commons

Mekong, December 4, 2015

Mekong Commons

International rivers, such as the Mekong, are crucial arteries carrying the lifeblood of freshwater that sustains human existence and ecosystems around the world.

An estimated 263 transboundary river basins cover nearly half the Earth’s surface area and supply more than 60% of the freshwater used worldwide each year.1 Therefore, our survival and prosperity largely depends on maintaining the ecological integrity of these international rivers – shared waters that historically and currently have connected – as much as divided – civilizations.

Dating back as far as 2500 BC, international agreements for joint management of rivers evince that diplomacy and cooperation between states have generally prevailed in the face of geo-political tensions over shared water resources.2 Nations and governments value such agreements because they provide improved predictability and transparency in sharing river resources. Most have the stated aim and inherent international legal principle of cooperation between riparian states at their core.

 

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