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Part II Evolution and Theoretical Bases of the Law of International Watercourses, 3 The Evolution of the Law of International Watercourses

From: The Law of International Watercourses (3rd Edition)

Stephen C. McCaffrey

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 31 May 2023

Freshwater — Natural resources — Lakes — Rivers

This chapter traces the history of the use of water by human societies, discusses impediments to the development of the law in this field, and introduces the theoretical challenge inherent in application of international norms to resources within a state’s borders. The law of international watercourses has developed in tandem with the evolution of human social organization and the intensification of use by human societies of fresh water. Evidence of early canals and dikes suggests that small communities and city-states had found it necessary to cooperate in order to control and utilize effectively the waters of major rivers. When the growth of other uses—such as irrigation and the generation of hydroelectric power—began to give rise to disputes, the first reaction was often to try to apply rules from other branches of international law to the problem.

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