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The Waters of Euphrates and Tigris: An International Law Perspective

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Competition over the scant resource water has been a recurring source of conflict between Iraq, Syria and Turkey, all three being riparian states of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. Despite several attempts at a common management of both watercourses, negotiations have not yet led to a final agreement. However, an equitable and sustainable allocation of this natural resource among the different countries would prove beneficial to all.This article examines the relations between Iraq, Syria and Turkey with regard to their shared rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, from an international law perspective. It starts by giving an overview of the utilization and development of the rivers and a history of the water dispute. The authors then analyze the relevant law applicable in the region from a global and regional perspective and present the conflicting positions of the riparians by describing the underlying problems of the conflict. Then different solutions which have been proposed by the riparians are evaluated. Finally, the authors propose elements to be considered in a future sharing agreement, and give a short conclusion.


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