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What Lessons From Europe? A Comparative Analysis of the Legal Frameworks That Govern Europe's Transboundary Waters

April 2006

Citation: 36 ELR 10290

Issue: 4

Author: Patricia Wouters

Editors' Summary: Rivers, lakes, and aquifers cross national borders around the world creating international interdependencies related to one of the world's most precious resources. More than one-half of the world's population derives their water from international sources, located beyond the jurisdiction and control of the country where they live. What are the rules of international law that govern these shared waters, and how can national water policy objectives be pursued in light of such interdependency, especially in a world of sovereign states? In this Article, Dr. Patricia Wouters identifies the legal regimes that apply to international watercourses and uses Europe as a regional case study to compare these different regimes. She uses a five-point analytical framework to identify, examine, and compare the rules of international law that govern these shared waters. The Article concludes by highlighting the legal innovations at the heart of the dual-track governance regime that has evolved to regulate Europe's transboundary waters and embeds this study in the global context.

Dr. Patricia Wouters is Director of the International Water Law Research Institute, now the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's Centre for Water Law, Policy, and Science. She received her B.A. and LL.B. from University of Ottawa, Canada; her LL.M. from University of California--Berkeley; and her D.E.S. and Ph.D. from the Graduate Institute of Higher Studies/ University of Geneva, in Geneva, Switzerland. She was also a Guest Research Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for Comparative and Public International Law in Heidelberg, Germany. Patricia's research interests include public international law and matters related to water resources management and poverty alleviation.

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