Shared Waters of the South Caucasus: Lessons for Treaty Formation and Development
Sustainability of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM): Water Governance, Climate and Ecohydrology, 2014
Posted: 11 Jun 2014 Last revised: 9 Aug 2014
Date Written: June 5, 2014
The Kura-Aras river basin is the largest and most critical water resource in the South Caucasus. The primary source of freshwater for Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, and a significant source for Turkey and Iran, the basin is at the center of a complex geopolitical region. The Kura-Aras has not been managed under a cooperative management treaty since the fall of the Soviet Union, and remains one of the most significant watercourses ungoverned by a transboundary agreement. Tense relations between neighbors, as well as ambitious development plans and economic priorities have pushed international cooperation over the basin to the fringes of the region’s agenda. In this chapter, the Kura-Aras river basin is examined in order to identify factors inhibiting, and opportunities to promote, cooperation. While a multilateral, basin-wide treaty appears unrealistic given extreme levels of diplomatic discord, opportunities exist to move towards a cooperative management framework through bilateral agreements.
Keywords: Kura-Aras river basin, South Caucasus, treaty formation, multilateral, bilateral, water resources management, international development
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