Friday, October 24, 2008

New Treaty Aims to Protect Shared Transboundary Aquifers

According to the Environmental News Service, the UN General Assembly on Monday will receive the draft Convention on Transboundary Aquifers. When it comes fully into force, the Convention (or multilateral treaty) will apply to 96 percent of the planet's freshwater resources - those that are to be found in underground aquifers, most of which straddle national boundaries. Underground aquifers contain 100 times the volume of fresh water found on the Earth's surface but they have been neglected under international law despite their environmental, social, economic and strategic importance.

UNESCO has published the first-ever world map of shared aquifers and a monograph assessing those water resources. The publications were timed to coincide with the submission to the General Assembly of the United Nations of the draft Convention on Transboundary Aquifers.

The first thought is that the Convention will apply to those aquifers shared between the United States and Mexico and those shared between the United States and Canada, thereby simplifying cooperation across our boundaries in the management of these important resources. However, the security of the United States might be even more enhanced by the reduction in the probability of conflict between other nations over the management and allocation of waters from their shared aquifers (Israel and Palestine/Jordan/Lebanon, India and Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, etc.). Wars in other regions seem often to drag us into their conflict.

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