The Management of International Rivers as Demands Grow and Supplies Tighten: India, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh
In this study, we describe the challenges of managing Himalayan rivers as a result of climate change and the industrialization and economic growth of India and China. We discuss a range of conceptual issues relevant for negotiations over the management of Himalayan rivers. We introduce the concept of multi-track diplomacy, and apply it to the case of international river management, in the context of innovations incorporated in five international treaties signed in 1996 and 1997. We examine past problems with bilateralism in international river diplomacy, in particular as an obstacle to successful agreement and the potential of more multilateral approaches. We describe the wave of Himalayan water projects being designed and constructed at the beginning of the twenty-first century, based on earlier agreements as well as new initiatives. We note the subsequent implementation problems that have arisen, and the substantial issues that need to be addressed by an expanded group of countries depending on Himalayan rivers. Finally, we consider directions in which current innovations might be extended as bases of regional cooperation, using the multi-track diplomacy framework. We suggest that an independent regulatory agency could facilitate rational development, assist in the management of substantial uncertainties about future flows, and reduce the potential for conflict. We describe the possible structure and functioning of such a new institution.
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