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Tributary-level transboundary water law in the Syr Darya: overlooked stories of practical water cooperation

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  • Bunyod Holmatov

    (International Water Management Institute)

  • Jonathan Lautze

    (International Water Management Institute)

  • Jusipbek Kazbekov

    (International Water Management Institute)

Abstract

Conventional emphasis on basin-wide water management has often resulted in the formation of transboundary water law on the basin or near basin scale. In Central Asia, however, the Syr Darya Basin possesses an abundance of tributary-level cooperative agreements that guide and codify water sharing and management on the sub-basin scale. To understand the volume and nature of this cooperation, this paper compiled and analyzed a set of agreements that apply to small transboundary tributaries (STTs) in the Syr Darya Basin. The paper assembled the largest collection of STT water agreements—123 in total—and classified such documents according to a range of criteria including: purpose and objectives, water management issues, and operational mechanisms. Results of this work highlight a rise in sub-basin-scale cooperation in the first decade of the twenty-first century, a time when large-scale cooperation appeared tenuous; a practical orientation to transboundary water management at a small scale; and an abundance of treaties of short time duration. These findings present options related to scale, time duration and focus of transboundary water law that can help inform future treaty development.

Suggested Citation

  • Bunyod Holmatov & Jonathan Lautze & Jusipbek Kazbekov, 2016. "Tributary-level transboundary water law in the Syr Darya: overlooked stories of practical water cooperation," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(6), pages 873-907, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:ieaple:v:16:y:2016:i:6:d:10.1007_s10784-015-9308-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s10784-015-9308-3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mark Giordano & Alena Drieschova & James Duncan & Yoshiko Sayama & Lucia De Stefano & Aaron Wolf, 2014. "A review of the evolution and state of transboundary freshwater treaties," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 245-264, September.
    2. Andrea Gerlak & Jonathan Lautze & Mark Giordano, 2011. "Water resources data and information exchange in transboundary water treaties," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 179-199, May.
    3. Mariya Pak & Kai Wegerich & Jusipbek Kazbekov, 2014. "Re-examining conflict and cooperation in Central Asia: a case study from the Isfara River, Ferghana Valley," International Journal of Water Resources Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(2), pages 230-245, June.
    4. KLAUS ABBINK & MOLLER, Lars Christian & SARAH O'HARA, 2005. "The Syr Darya River Conflict: An Experimental Case Study," Discussion Papers 2005-14, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    5. Jonathan Lautze & Kai Wegerich & Jusipbek Kazbekov & Murat Yakubov, 2013. "International river basin organizations: variation, options and insights," Water International, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(1), pages 30-42, January.
    6. Erika Weinthal, 2006. "Water Conflict and Cooperation in Central Asia," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-2006-32, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
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