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Negotiations Over Water and Other Natural Resources in the La Plata River Basin: A Model for Other Transboundary Basins?

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The La Plata River Basin in South America, whose waters are shared by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, provides important lessons from the long history of negotiations over its shared water and other natural resources. In particular, innovative resource management practices developed over time have led to the relative harmony in which the riparian countries coexist. In this article, we analyze negotiation techniques within the La Plata River Basin by examining in detail the processes leading to the two seminal agreements – the 1969 Treaty of La Plata Basin and the 1979 Itaipú-Corpus Agreement. Based upon our analysis of the complex and often contradictory relationships between the riparian states, we evaluate the outcomes of both treaties from the standpoint of cooperation in the region and sustainable development. In doing so, we extend the relevance of the analysis to other basins with similar issues of regional management. The article extends the basin cooperation, through negotiation, to include trade agreements and development via project partnerships that draw in regional and global actors, including non-governmental organizations, environmental lobbies in foreign countries, and multinational development banks. The above actors are relevant for many parts of the world in today's era of globalization.

Affiliations: 1: Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University, 1740 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20036, USA; 2: The Keystone Center, 1730 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA; 3: Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias Hídricas, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Ciudad Universitaria, Paraje "E Pozo", (S3000), Santa Fe, Argentina; 4: University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA


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