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Impediments and Innovation in International Rivers: The Waters of South Asia

Nov 1999
Stanford King Center on Global Development Working Paper
International cooperation over the major rivers in South Asia has become much closer in the last several years, despite nuclear tests in India and Pakistan, and rising tension between those states. Five important treaties or agreements, signed in 1996 and 1997, against a background of greater regional economic and non-governmental contact, could facilitate significant progress to mitigate flooding and drought, to provide a basis for greater regional cooperation, and to sustain irrigation expansion and industrial development. This paper identifies past impediments to cooperation, then examines how new agreements seem to offer negotiation on a wider range of issues than has previously been considered, and to expand the range of institutions involved in negotiations. Most notably, the new agreements expand the range of potential negotiating bodies beyond national governments to include cities, corporations, local governments and non-governmental organizations. This integration of diplomacy and economics could have far-reaching implications elsewhere, as well as in South Asia.