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7. River Boundaries and International Law

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines state practices in delineating river boundaries, typically through the negotiation of bilateral treaties. Efforts by international bodies, such as the International Law Commission, the Institute of International Law and the International Law Association, to develop guidelines for the management of river boundaries, are considered as precedents for the conclusion of the framework 1997 United Nations Convention on the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses. While the principal concern of the chapter lies with the delimitation of territorial boundaries, the particular legal issues raised by river boundaries warrant consideration of the evolving principles of international law regulating the use of shared water resources. The chapter provides some international case studies to illustrate the kinds of disputes that have been submitted for resolution by international courts and tribunals. The continued use of rivers as international boundaries remains a powerful instrument for peace between neighbours and a practical delineation of jurisdiction.

Keywords: bilateral treaties; international courts; international disputes; international law; river boundaries; water resources



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