Minute 242 and Beyond: Challenges and Opportunities for Managing Transboundary Groundwater on the Mexico-U.S. Border
Posted: 3 Sep 2001
Sharing transboundary groundwater remains one of the most pressing and difficult issues in Mexico-U.S. relations despite Minute 242 of the International Boundary and Water Commission, signed in 1973, which acknowledges the need to develop a comprehensive groundwater agreement for the border region. This essay profiles the numerous groundwater disputes along the border and analyzes current institutional and political opportunities for resolving them. Common pool resources theory and recent work in prescriptive international law are utilized to identify opportunities for greater binational cooperation. Given the history and complexity of the transboundary water dispute, this paper concludes with four recommendations: first, that the two countries continue to strengthen and share technical knowledge; second, that they strive for incremental solutions; third, that they prioritize settling their most tractable disagreements; and finally, that they support international efforts to further develop prescriptive international legal principles as articulated in the recent Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses and the Bellagio Draft Treaty on transboundary groundwater.
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