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When International Water Law Meets Anarchy: How May Transformation Occur in Hydropolitical Relations?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mohsen NagheebyORCiD


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The complex struggle to transform hydropolitical relations over international watercourses in equitable and sustainable manner is by nature surrounded by politics and law in an anarchic setting. The potential power of customary international law, such as ERU (equitable and reasonable utilization), to influence political dynamics has not been scrutinised by literature. This paper, therefore, aims to provide a fresh perspective on how international water law could contribute to “transformation” of hydropolitical relations towards equity in anarchy. The paper intends to introduce a theoretical outlook addressing the symptoms of anarchy, normative power of the ERU principle to shape state’s interest and identity and its potential for rendering hydropolitical relations equitable and sustainable. In doing so, this paper first goes to critically discuss different interpretations of “transformation” in hydropolitical relations over international watercourses. Then, the paper examines certain circumstances of anarchy in which international water law can be a “game-changer”. While arguing that anarchic setting is a critical determinant of shaping hydropolitical relations, this paper tackles both the root causes of the failure to implement the ERU principle and the potential for building a future-proof international water law.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nagheeby Mohsen

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: The 20th Annual Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law

Year of Conference: 2023

Pages: 61-62

Print publication date: 31/07/2023

Online publication date: 04/08/2023

Acceptance date: 20/03/2023

Publisher: University of Eastern Finnland