Entry into force of the UN Watercourses Convention in August 2014, and the opening of the UNECE Water Convention to all states in March 2016, are significant milestones in international water law. A comparative analysis of these two global water conventions and the 1995 Mekong Agreement reveals that all three instruments are generally compatible. Nonetheless, the international legal principles and processes set forth in the two conventions can render the Mekong Agreement more up-to-date, robust and practical.
The Governance Regime of the Mekong River Basin: Can the Global Water Conventions Strengthen the 1995 Mekong Agreement? contends that strengthening the Agreement would be timely, given the increasing pressures associated with the rapid hydropower development within the basin and the gradually emerging disputes therein. Due to these fast-moving developments, Kinna and Rieu-Clarke strongly recommend that the Mekong states should seriously consider joining both conventions in order to buttress and clarify key provisions of the 1995 Mekong Agreement.
Rémy Kinna, LLM, is an Honorary Research Associate with the Institute of Marine & Environmental Law at the University of Cape Town. He is an international environmental law, governance and policy specialist based in the Mekong region. His professional experience spans law firms, non-government organisations, the United Nations, academia and consulting.
Alistair Rieu-Clarke, PhD, is Professor and Chair in Law at Northumbria University, Newcastle. His research focuses on the role and relevance of international law vis-a-vis shared natural resources. He has published widely on the contribution of law to the equitable and sustainable development of transboundary rivers, lakes and aquifers.
Scholars and practitioners in the field of international water law and anyone concerned with the legal framework and governance regime of the Mekong River and its tributaries.