(Ground)Water Governance and Legal Development in Iran, 1906–2016

In: Middle East Law and Governance
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  • 1 Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

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One hundred and ten years after the Persian (Iranian) constitution of 1906, the country is experiencing a serious water crisis. Blame is often attributed to the government’s mismanagement. This paper aims to throw light on the water-related laws and policies throughout Iran’s history to unravel the cause of this crisis from a legal perspective. This research provides a concise review on how the state’s development policies can be read through the water-relevant laws. To this end, the study defines and explores the laws through five chronological periods: (1) Codification, (2) Fast-paced Development and legislation, (3) Development and protection, (4) Development and Justice, (5) Back-to-Development. Along with highlighting the social, political, and economic background of each period, the key laws associated with water regulation are introduced and their implications on the development policies are discussed. This historical review provides us with insights about the question of why Iran is currently struggling with multiple challenges in the water sector, which are manifested as dried out rivers, disappearing lakes, and depleted groundwater.