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The Work of the International Law Commission on Shared Natural Resources: The Pursuit of Competence and Relevance

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A growing demand for rules that regulate the use of shared or transboundary natural resources is evident. The exploitation of water, oil or other transboundary natural resources in one state may often have consequences that delimit the possibilities of the neighbouring state to exploit the same resources. As natural resources in the boundary areas are expected to be a major source of controversy in the 21st century, it is reasonable to call for the development of norms that would set the minimum requirements for international co-operation and the maximum limits of state sovereignty in the utilisation of transboundary natural resources. The present article addresses the matter by analysing the work of the International Law Commission on the topic of shared natural resources. The Commission faces a difficult challenge as it undertakes to universally regulate a subject matter that is highly technical and politically sensitive and encompasses diverse regional situations. It is argued that the relevance of the work of the International Law Commission in this field and the competence of its legal experts can be questioned, as the Commission balances between too general and too technical an approach to the topic.


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