Changing principles of international water law in Central Asia: Addressing the crisis, from customary practice to virtual water footprints

Arynova, Aigul
Laws regulating transboundary water allocation in Central Asia discriminate water interests of upperstream states and contribute to the excessive water use by downstream states. The present research studies water conflict in Central Asia emphasizing the changing impacts of international water law and its cardinal principle, the equitable and reasonable utilization (ERU). A review of the main water regime which had developed in Central Asia including agreements signed following the USSR’s collapse is conducted. This allows questions to be asked about the impact and effectiveness of international water law and the ERU principle in the regional water allocation scheme. The results reveal that current water sharing does not recognize the ERU principle and is discriminatory towards upperstream states. In order to offer solutions for developing upperstream states, this paper recognizes that multifactor standard of the ERU, as well as countermeasures and foreclosure of future use principles set ground for just water sharing. Additionally though, adopting and elaborating concepts crucial to the new sustainability discourse – especially the concepts of water footprint and virtual water – it will be shown how the current regime by allowing wasteful water use, permissively contributes to the regional water crisis. This is demonstrated through a review of water footprints on agricultural production in the region. It is recommended that further research is carried out on integration of the ERU principle to the water allocation laws of Central Asia, particularly on the penalization of wasteful water use and adoption of interdisciplinary concepts and regulation across the region.


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Citation Formats
A. Arynova, “Changing principles of international water law in Central Asia: Addressing the crisis, from customary practice to virtual water footprints,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2019.