Legal Regime for Use and Protection of International Watercourses in the Southern African Region: Evolution and Context
Posted: 30 Jun 2002
Water resources management is receiving increased attention worldwide due to the growing realization that most areas of the world face major challenges with regard to the quantitative and qualitative aspects of water. These challenges are attributed to a multitude of factors, the most important of which are the significant increase in population, urbanization, and environmental degradation. Such factors are more apparent in the Southern African Region than in many other parts of the world. The region is, by and large, arid and semi-arid and as a result faces a shortage of water in many areas. Moreover, the high rates of population growth and urbanization threaten to worsen the situation. The region depends, to a large extent, on the waters of river basins, most of which are shared by two or more countries. Under these circumstances, the potential for conflicts over shared water resources exists and is expanding. Thus, the recent conclusion of the Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses in the Southern African Development Community is a significant step towards averting such conflicts and developing close cooperation for a sustainable, coordinated, and equitable utilization of Southern Africa's shared watercourses. This article examines the water resource problems of the Southern African Development Community Region and discusses and analyzes the Revised Protocol. The article compares the main provisions of the Revised Protocol with an earlier protoco and with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses.
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