The Institutional Design of Riparian Treaties: The Role of River Issues
International agreements governing rivers vary considerably in whether they contain institutional provisions for joint monitoring, conflict resolution, enforcement, and/or the delegation of authority to intergovernmental organizations. This article develops an explanation for why some river management treaties include more institutional provisions while others contain fewer, if any. The authors argue that certain types of issues related to river use—water quantity, water quality, and navigation—tend to be difficult to manage and prone to noncompliance. When forming treaties to address these specific issues, states will be more likely to include institutional provisions. The authors test the link between these river use issues and institutional design using a data set of 315 river treaties signed since 1950. The results show that highly contentious issues—and in particular water quantity and navigation—have a greater effect on the institutional design of river treaties than contextual and power politics factors.
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