River basins and rules on non-navigational use of international watercourses.
Asheesh, Mohamed; Katko, Tapio S.
Transboundary water resources management is one of the biggest global challenges for the 21st century coming up in water resources management, planning and implementation and one of the reasons behind the long-term and short-term water conflicts. Several attempts have been made to devise a set of rules for the distribution of water and to avoid the international conflicts over water resources. The first international agreement on the uses of waters of international rivers was signed in the Finnish capital, Helsinki in 1966, hence called the Helsinki Rules adapted later by the International Law Association (ILA). It revolves primarily around the concept of equitable utilization and contains also the issues of pollution, navigation and settlement of disputes. This was followed by the Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses in 1997. In river basin conflicts, possible and alternative solutions should be based on international legitimacy and principles of efficient and sustainable use of water resources. Two basic steps for a long lasting solution should be identified. The first step is to realize that negotiation in good will is the way to solve a conflict. The second step requires that any solution should be comprehensive and integrated. The principles and rules that should be applied to solve such a conflict in a comprehensive and integrated manner include adaptation of a water charter for a region, optimization of water use in agriculture and industries, and proper pricing policies of water. In the northern part of the world the case of Lake Inari is a good example of co-operation between Finland and Russia. The river Tornionjoki is another good example of co-operation in dividing and dealing with the riparian right over a river basin and allocating water portion of riparian parties. The case of the river Tenojoki in relation to fish farming, presents a case of conflict between Finland and Norway. Sharing the water resources between the Arabs and Israelis, sharing and management of the Jordan River basin and the mountain aquifer water resources in the West Bank is a case of long-term conflict. It is also one of the key issues in the on-going peace process.