A non-governmental, non-profit, international association of lawyers and non-lawyers active in the field of fresh water resources

Last updated August 24, 2016


Groundwater and Climate Change Multi-Level Law and Policy Perspectives, Water International Special Issue, Vol. 42, No. 6, August 2017

This Special Issue of Water International undertakes a scholarly assessment of the state of the art of the law and policy on groundwater and climate change at the international, regional and national levels. It was produced out of papers presented at workshops organized within a partnership project between the Law, Environment and Development Centre of SOAS, University of London, and the National Law University Delhi under the auspices of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative.  

The Special Issue contains an introduction by Editors Philippe Cullet and AIDA member Raya Marina Stephan, and a number of research articles, as follows:

  • Regulating the interactions between climate change and groundwater: lessons from India, by P. Cullet, L. Bhullar & S. Koonan

  • Assessing India’s drip-irrigation boom: efficiency, climate change and groundwater policy, by Trevor Birkenholtz

  • Climate change, groundwater and the law: exploring the connections in South Africa, by AIDA member M. Kidd

  • Groundwater law, abstraction, and responding to climate change: assessing recent law reforms in British Columbia and England, by B. Ohdedar

  • EU legal protection for ecologically significant groundwater in the context of climate change vulnerability, by AIDA member O. McIntyre

  • Groundwater use in North Africa as a cautionary tale for climate change adaptation, by M. Kuper, H. Amichi & P-L. Mayaux

  • Global climate change and global groundwater law: their independent and pluralistic evolution and potential challenges, by J. Gupta & K. Conti

  • Climate change considerations under international groundwater law, by AIDA member Raya Marina Stephan 

The Special Issue is available online, at http://www.tandfonline.com/

Geneva Water Hub: Massive Online Course (MOOC) on International Water Law now available

International law has experienced major developments in the past decades, which take into account the multifaceted nature of freshwater management and protection. Adopting universal, regional and river-basin tools stresses the importance of studying the evolution of international legal frameworks for water resources, and for identifying the main principles in this area. This course aims at providing the foundations required to understand and examine the rules applying to transboundary freshwater resources, especially to rivers, lakes and aquifers; It presents the principles and legal standards governing the use, sharing, management and protection of these resources. The MOOC is composed of 5 modules addressing different themes. The order of these modules follows a defined logic and helps people who are not familiar with the topic to understand the MOOC. An evaluation quiz accompanies each module. The MOOC will follow a unique path resulting in a certificate for the learners with an average of over 80% on the quiz.

 Course objectives :

  • Describe the issues regarding the regulation of transboundary freshwater;

  • Explain the evolution of international regulations relating to transboundary freshwater;

  • Recall and interpret the principles and rules governing the regulation of water resources;

  • Understand the role of dispute settlement mechanisms for transboundary waters in the development of international law (including the role of the courts in the resolution of freshwater conflicts).

 Partners :

The MOOC was developed by the Platform for International Water Law, which is part of the Geneva Water Hub.  The course is funded by the Global Water Programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and is supported by the “MOOC’s Cellule” of the University of Geneva. Various international practitioners and experts have contributed to the course. This MOOC is now available at: https://fr.coursera.org/learn/droit-international-eau-douce 



Second edition of the online course on International Water Law and the Law of Transboundary Aquifers, 18 September - 3 December, 2017

The second edition of the online course on "International Water Law and the Law of Transboundary Aquifers", taught by experts of the Platform for International Water Law/Geneva Water Hub, will start on 19 September, 2017. The deadline for applications is 11 September, 2017. Full and partial scholarships are available to candidates from developing countries. 

According to the “Observatoire de la vie étudiante” of the University of Geneva, this course was the best online course offered in 2016. Some of the participants in the last edition said:

“...this course is really helping me see things in a new light (...). I have learnt a lot and I am continuing to learn. I have soon to submit a memo to my director to show him the importance of IWL and the shortcomings of Togo in the domain.” Richard Barry, Directorate of Water Resources, Togo

“The training used different participatory approaches such as webinars, assignments and quiz which tested factual knowledge and analytical perspective of the subject matter. The support afforded to me, both technical as well as the answers from the expert, was superb. Therefore, I have no hesitation in recommending the course to any person whatsoever.” Sarah Vranckx, Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Namibia 

The online course was developed with the support of the Center for Continuing and Distance Education of the University of Geneva, and in partnership with DiploFoundation. It is funded by the Global Water Programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

To receive further information about the course, contact Dr. Mara Tignino, at mara.tignino@unige.ch, or visit https://www.unige.ch/formcont/waterlaw/, where you will also find information on how to apply.




Transboundary Water Cooperation over the Brahmaputra River: Legal Political Economy Analysis of Current and Future Potential Cooperation, Project Report, The Hague Institute for Global Justice, August, 2017

This publication was produced under the Water Diplomacy: Making Water Cooperation Work project, led by The Hague Institute for Global Justice, in collaboration with Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), UNESCO Category II Centre for International Water Cooperation (ICWC), Uppsala University, University of Otago, University College Cork, and Tufts University Water Diplomacy Program. It was authored by Yumiko Yasuda (The Hague Institute for Global Justice; ICWC; SIWI; Uppsala University), Dipankar Aich (The Hague Institute for Global Justice), Douglas Hill (University of Otago) and Patrick Huntjens (The Hague Institute for Global Justice), Ashok Swain (Uppsala University).

The Brahmaputra River (also called Yarlung-Tsangpo in China; Jamuna in Bangladesh; and Manas River in Bhutan) is one of the largest rivers in South Asia. The river originates in the Tibetan area of China and flows through four countries, including China, Bhutan, India and Bangladesh, before reaching the sea at the Bay of Bengal. It provides an important source of livelihoods for the riparian populations, many of whom use the river for agriculture and fisheries. The river also encompasses a huge potential for hydropower electricity generation with some dams planned or already operating within China, Bhutan and India. The use of its water resources has become the source of contention between different users in some parts of the river, involving multiple jurisdictions and countries. Sharing of water resources over several jurisdictions can potentially create conflict among various actors.

Recognizing the importance of water cooperation over the Brahmaputra, this report  analyses key factors that affect transboundary water cooperation. It also analyses potential area of future cooperation, termed as Zone of Possible Effective Cooperation (ZOPEC). Eight cases of current cooperation action situations over the Brahmaputra river were analysed, based on field research within four riparian countries and literature review. The Multi-Track Water Diplomacy Framework was used as analytical core. The research results were validated through a stakeholder workshop. 

To access the publication, use the following link: Transboundary Water Cooperation over the Brahmaputra River: Legal Political Economy Analysis of Current and Future Potential Cooperation


Transboundary Water Cooperation over the lower part of the Jordan River Basin: Legal Political Economy Analysis of Current and Future Potential Cooperation, Project Report, The Hague Institute for Global Justice, August, 2017

Also produced under the Water Diplomacy project, this report was authored by Yumiko Yasuda (The Hague Institute for Global Justice; ICWC; SIWI; Uppsala University), Juliane Schillinger (The Hague Institute for Global Justice), Patrick Huntjens (The Hague Institute for Global Justice), Charlotte Alofs (The Hague Institute for Global Justice) and Rens de Man (The Hague Institute for Global Justice).

Water conflict and cooperation surrounding riparian countries among the Jordan River has been one of the most contentious issues in the Middle East, at times leading to the use of military force. This is particularly true in the lower part of the Jordan River Basin, where there has been a shift in territory and power, closely linked to the management of, and contention over, water. Access to clean and sufficient water is critical in the Middle East, not only for human health, the environment and economic development, but also for establishing stability and sustaining peace.

While there are many studies analysing current water contention over the lower part of the Jordan River, there is a gap in a comprehensive analysis of factors affecting various cooperation taking place within the basin, linking analysis to future potential areas of cooperation. This report is the result of a research project aimed at filling this gap. Five key cooperation action situations that take place within the lower portion of the Jordan River basin are analysed. The analysis was conducted using a Multi-Track Water Diplomacy Framework as the core of its analysis. These analyses, along with existing proposals for possible future solutions, were used to develop the Zone of Possible Effective Cooperation (ZOPEC) for the lower part of the Jordan River Basin.

To access the publication, go to: Transboundary Water Cooperation over the lower part of the Jordan River Basin: Legal Political Economy Analysis of Current and Future Potential Cooperation (*pdf)

Vacancy announcement: Executive Director, Natural Justice

Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment is a non-profit organisation, specialising in human rights and environmental law, operating on the African continent and at the regional (African Commission) and international (UN) levels. It is a team of progressive legal practitioners who conduct comprehensive research on environmental and human rights law, support communities and local organisations, provide technical advice to governments and intergovernmental organisations, and engage in key international processes in pursuit of social and environmental justice. Natural Justice is headquartered in Cape Town, works in a range of African countries, and has staff in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Benin, Zimbabwe and Guinea.

Natural Justice has recently undergone a full programmatic and governance review process that led, among others, to the formation of five programmatic areas, namely: Climate Change; Extractives and Infrastructure; Conservation and Customary Use; Governance of Land and Natural Resources; and Traditional Knowledge and Benefit Sharing.

Natural Justice seeks an experienced, full-time professional, familiar with and passionate about the field of environmental justice and with proven management and not-for-profit leadership experience in Africa. The successful candidate will be based in Cape Town, South Africa, with frequent international travel and will begin work in January 2018.

The successful candidate is expected to provide leadership and oversight on all of Natural Justice’s key functions (programmatic, financial and operations) to both scale its impact and ensure the organization’s sustainability. He/she will have the following personal and professional attributes:

  • A postgraduate degree in law or other relevant social science discipline;

  • Expertise in both environmental law (including natural resource and/or land law) and human rights law, especially with an African focus;

  • 10 years of management expertise with at least 5 years in a leadership position; experience in managing organisations through start-up phases is a bonus;

  • Experience with a broad spectrum of stakeholder engagement and management, ranging from partner communities to donors and government officials. In particular, a track record of working with indigenous peoples and/or local communities;

  • Experience in government and international organisation advocacy;

  • Familiarity with budgetary processes, monitoring and evaluation frameworks and the development of internal policies and strategic plans;

  • Experience with managing and communicating with a board of trustees;

  • Ability to manage a diverse and geographically dispersed team and build consensus;

  • Experience in fundraising, and ability to demonstrate fundraising success in previous professional setting;

  • A track record in developing networks and setting up new collaborations and partnerships;

  • Confident public speaking and excellent writing skills;

  • A sense of humour;

  • Fluency in English required, French or Portuguese an advantage; and

  • Willingness to travel and work at the international level as well as with local organisations and communities in remote areas.

Deadline for applications is 1 September 2017, 17.00 GMT. Applications should be sent to Johanna von Braun with the job title in the subject line by 1 September 2017 (17:00 GMT) to: johanna(at)naturaljustice.org. A motivation letter should be included that indicates why you feel you are the best candidate for this position, and a detailed CV with three contactable references. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. To learn more: http://naturaljustice.org/

Online Course on Human Rights-Based Approach to Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), 11 September 11 November, 2017

This online course offers participants an introduction to the main principles and concepts for a human rights based approach to IWRM, as an essential condition to improve access to water and sanitation and achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The course is structured into six modules, as follows:

Module 1: Introduction to IWRM and water governance;

Module 2: The human right-based approach ;

Module 3: A human right-based approach to IWRM and international law;

Module 4: Core provisions of the human right to water;

Module 5: Water, legal pluralism and human rights;

Module 6: A tool for the implementation of the human right to water.

The course is open to a maximum of 50 participants representing various stakeholder groups from the water sector. For further information and apply for the course, visit http://campus.cap-net.org/en/course/a-human-rights-based-approach-to-iwrm-2017-edition-hrba17/


Vacancy Announcement: UNESCO Natural Sciences Division of Hydrological Science- Section of Groundwater Systems and Human Settlements


Domain : Natural Sciences - Hydrological Science

Grade : P-4


Primary Location : FR-Paris

Recruitment open to : Internal and external candidates

Type of contract : Fixed Term

Salary : 91 873 Euros  

Deadline (Midnight Paris Time) : 22 June, 2017


Under the overall authority of the Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences (ADG/SC) and the direct supervision of the Chief of Section of Groundwater Systems and Settlements (SC/HYD/GSS), the incumbent will be  the  responsible officer for the Environmental Groundwater Resources Management and Human Settlements component of the UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP). S/he will define priorities for the comprehensive research and studies on the water education activites related to groundwater and transboundary aquifers and the use of new science-based methodologies that facilitate the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). S/he will ensure the development and delivery of programme and project management initiatives of the Section and will manage, advise and report on their progress.

The incumbent in particular will:

  • Develop, drive and ensure the delivery of a comprehensive Environmental Groundwater Resources Management Programme, and contribute to the Human Settlements strategy.

  • Conceptualize new science-based methodologies for data collection and analysis and design relevant approaches, partnerships, policies and objectives.

  • Plan, develop and implement outreach strategies, aimed at expanding programmes and  increasing resources and visibility through communication with partners and networks.

  • Coordinate multidisciplinary activities on surface water and groundwater conjunctive management.

  • Ensure consultative support and execute technical assistance and capacity development projects in strategic areas of UNESCO’s IHP mandate, as well as provide intellectual and strategic advice on the alignment of the Transboundary Aquifers Resources Management initiatives to attain the Sustainable Development Goals such as the SDG 6, and in particular SDG 6.5.2.

    • Mobilize resources through the preparation of project proposals, cooperation frameworks, and negotiation with donor agencies and other technical partners.

    • Organize consultations, training and technical events related to the section or IHP.

    • Represent the IHP at internal and external meetings and network events, and serve as focal point within the Division of Water Sciences on his/her areas of expertise; participate in crosscutting activities and projects.



  • Advanced university degree (Master’s or equivalent in the field of water resources management, hydrology, environmental engineering, water resources engineering / sciences, geohydrology or in a related area. A first-level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.


  • A minimum of 7 years of progressively responsible professional experience in the field of water resources management, hydrology and water resources research, of which preferably 3 years acquired at the international level.

  • Research and education experience in the field of water with a proven track record of scientific publications.

 To apply open the link : https://careers.unesco.org/careersection/2/joblist.ftl  and identify the Post Number : SC 460

Online Course on the Law of International Freshwater Resources

The objective of this course is to provide a basis for the analysis and understanding of the legal framework for the management of transboundary fresh water resources, including rivers, lakes and aquifers. It illustrates the principles and rules applying to the utilization, sharing, management and protection of these resources, and includes a module on the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. The course was developed by members of the Platform for International Water Law of the Law Faculty of the University of Geneva.

The course is available online, at: https://www.coursera.org/learn/droit-international-eau-douce

Crystal Drop awarded to Dr Salman M.A. Salman at the 16th World Water Congress of the International Water Resources Association, Cancun, Mexico, 1 June, 2017
Acceptance and Keynote Address

Thank you very much Ben, thank you Jim and Patrick

Good afternoon water colleagues and friends

I am deeply humbled by my selection as the co-recipient of the Crystal Drop Award 2017. It is indeed a great honor being a member since 1994 of the International Water Resources Association - the premier, global, inclusive think tank that encompasses all the disciplines and experts around the world working on water resources.

Thus, it is particularly rewarding and gratifying that this distinguished community of experts has recognized my work on water law and policy, and on the urgent need for cooperation on shared watercourses. This is a mission I have embarked on some decades ago at my hometown, Khartoum, at the confluence of the Blue Nile and White Nile in the Sudan.

It is also a special privilege to share this Award with my friend Cecilia Tortajada. She was the first, and thus far, the only female president of the Association. I had the opportunity of working as a director under her presidency in 2007 - 2009, and had witnessed her hard work and dedication to strengthen and advance our Association.

To my colleagues and friends in the legal arena of water resources, I would like to reiterate that this Award is really ours together. It is a timely reconfirmation of the vital role that national and international law can, and indeed, should play in the management, sharing, and protection of water resources.


Allow me fellow water colleagues and friends, after this acceptance speech of the Crystal Drop Award, to deliver a short address on the role and contribution of our International Water Resources Association on the on-going debate on the challenges facing water resources.

We have now been in Cancun together for almost a week, for our sixteenth Congress, debating and brainstorming on the tremendous challenges facing the planet’s most scarce and precious resource. Hence, I thought I would use my remaining time for a quick overview of how the road to this week’s Congress has been paved, and to bring to light the great efforts that have helped in expanding and strengthening our contribution to water resources management.

The efforts of the Association in this connection are almost half a century old, and can be traced to the seventies of last century. During all these years the Association’s role in the debate has been immense and substantive, its voice loud and audible, and its publications, recommendations and actions have contributed considerably to the successes that have since been achieved in the water sector. Indeed, one can safely contend that the Congresses, debate, and actions of the Association had preceded in earnest, and influenced, all the other global efforts in this field.

The idea of establishing a water institution encompassing all the disciplines working on water resources, and open to all the experts around the world, was debated in the sixties of the last century during the meetings of the American Water Resources Association. However, it was in May 1970 that the first steps were taken for putting this idea into effect. Eighteen months later the preparatory work was completed, and the International Water Resources Association was officially formed and registered, and was legally incorporated in the State of Wisconsin in the USA on 29 November 1971.

On April 1, 1972, Mr. Ven Te Chow, Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at the University of Illinois, was elected as the first President of the Association. The business office was opened in that month in Falls Church, Virginia, with 195 members, representing the major disciplines working on water resources, from more than 40 countries. Thus, the Association was born, hitting the ground running.

The first Association’s World Water Congress was held a year and half later, on September 24 – 28, 1973, in Chicago, Illinois. Indeed, the event marked the birth of the Association, with an impressive attendance of more than 200 experts, representing the major disciplines concerned with water resources, from 62 countries. The theme of the Congress was “Importance and Problems of Water in the Human Environment in Modern Times.” That Congress can accurately be called the first world water forum, and the official launching of our Association as a multi-disciplinary global water institution. The conclusions and resolutions of the first Congress included two important aspects, namely:

One: The need to develop a significant new international and interdisciplinary approach on water resources.

Two: Many common problems exist among nations and water users which can best be solved though a cooperative and coordinated approach.

Thus, the Association was, in 1973, clearly ahead of its time and other institutions. Aren’t these issues still the focus of our discussion, even this weeks in Cancun? Aren’t we still debating multi-disciplinary approaches, integrated water resources management, and the need for cooperation at both the national and international levels for addressing the challenges of management, sharing and protection of water resources?

The year 1975 witnessed two major and significant developments. In July 1975, the first issue of our flag journal – Water International – was published as the first periodical devoted exclusively to water resources management, with articles addressing the multi-disciplinary approach, by experts in all fields of water resources.

The second development was the holding of the Association second Congress in New Delhi, India, in December 1975. The Congress was organized under the theme “Water and Human Needs.” It was attended by more than 1,200 participants from 45 countries, who presented and discussed more than 260 rich multi-disciplinary papers.

The second Congress was hosted by, and co-organized with the Association by the Central Board for Irrigation and Power in New Delhi. This approach set in motion the precedent of hosting of the Congress by the national water institutions, with the assistance and guidance of the Association – a practice we have seen even this week in Mexico, with the organization of ANEAS in Cancun of the 16th Congress. It is worth mentioning that Mexico also hosted the third Congress that was organized thirty-eight years ago, in April 1979 in Mexico City. The theme of that Congress was "Water for Human Survival." About 1,500 participants from 80 countries attended and presented more than 500 papers. These are impressive numbers, interestingly, almost similar to the numbers we are having this week in Cancun.

The multi-disciplinary nature of the Association was proven to the letter when the members of the Association elected Guillermo Cano as the second president in 1979 for the period 1980 to 1982. The more than one hundred legal colleagues who are here this week for the 16th Congress will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the second president of the Association, almost forty years ago, was a lawyer, and not an engineer or a hydrologist. The Association confirmed beyond doubt its multi-disciplinary character.

The role and influence of the Association on other concurrent and parallel events in the water sector have also been quite prominent from the early days. Soon after the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established in 1972, an invitation was extended to some members of the Association to help with UNEP water programme. Dr. Chow and Dr. Biswas assisted UNEP in that task, and were able to include much of the Association's philosophy in UNEP water policies and program. 

In fact, it was the influence and push of the Association that led the United Nations to hold the first ever conference exclusively devoted to water resources – the Mar del Plata Conference in Argentina in 1977. The secretariat of the Mar del Plata Conference included a number of Association’s members, and the Association contributed considerably to the stounding success of that conference, and its resolutions and action plans.

It was also the Association’s eighth Congress in Cairo in 1994 that paved the way for the establishment of the World Water Council, and later the Global Water Partnership. Henceforth, the mobilization of action on critical water issues at all levels would be undertaken by the World Water Council; the coordination aspects by the Global Water Partnership; leaving the Association to concentrate, as a think tank, on the intellectual aspects of water resources management. The World Water Forums organized by the World Water Council every three years would complement, rather than compete with the Association’s triannual Congress. Some past presidents of the Association would assume the presidency of the World Water Council, and vice versa, and this has helped in transplanting of their unique experience, and in the coordination of the respective activities.

 I can continue for the rest of this afternoon talking about the tremendous influence and contribution of our Association. However, I need to stop here, and conclude with the reminder that despite the successes we have achieved, existing challenges to water resources are multiplying and mounting, and new ones are surfacing every day. We need to remain relevant and effective. However, we can only do so by redoubling our efforts, and by continuing to be innovative, proactive, adaptive, and responsive.

Thank You Very Much.

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