Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Countries should be stopped from seizing neighbours' rivers

Freshwater is one of our most vital resources, but some nations have much greater access to it than others partly because of their good fortune of being sited upstream on a great river. This is not the only reason: there is no functioning international treaty governing the sharing of transboundary waterways. In the age of megadams, downstream countries get water at the whim of their upstream neighbours. The UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses signed 15 years ago, required countries to ensure the sustainable and equitable use of shared rivers. Despite this apparent assent, only 24 nations have subsequently ratified it, and 11 short of the threshold that would bring it into force. Almost half the world's people depend on water flowing down international rivers, yet two-thirds of those rivers have no water-sharing agreements, a scandal that the June's Earth Summit in Rio should address.

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