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The Institutionalization of River Treaties

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image of International Negotiation

This article seeks to expand our understanding of why states use international institutions to manage transboundary rivers. Agreements governing the use and management of international rivers can contain a variety of different institutional features. We address the question of why riparian states choose to include or exclude these features from river treaties. Our explanation focuses on the problem of securing post-agreement compliance. Institutions perform a variety of functions that help states maintain cooperation over time. We analyze this explanation using a data set of river treaties formed between 1950 and 2002. We find that the institutionalization of river treaties is associated with water scarcity, the flow pattern of shared rivers, trade interdependence, and the level of economic development. These findings have important implications for the possibility that rivers will be a source of future conflicts.

Affiliations: 1: Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602-1492, USA


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