Conflict of uses in transboundary waters

When? 2pm CEST, Tuesday 21 June 2022

Where? Register for this event on Zoom using this link –

The UN Watercourses Convention User’s Guide defines a “conflict of uses” as “the case where the quantity or quality of water in an international watercourse is insufficient to satisfy the needs of all riparian states”. The Guide then explains that the terms “international or shared or transboundary” watercourse are the practical terms for rivers, lakes, or groundwater sources that traverse two or more countries. Birnie, Boyle & Redgwell state that such “watercourses” will usually either “form or straddle an international boundary, or in the case of rivers, they may flow through a succession of states.” In this regard, the World Water Development Report 2020 states that there are currently 153 shared water basins. However, UNECE in 2018 found that mechanisms for cooperation are often absent, with only 59 per cent of transboundary basins covered by operational arrangements in respect of countries reporting to the UNECE and “cooperation on transboundary aquifers represent[ing] a particular challenge and is lagging further behind”. This calls into question the normative framework that can be used to resolve a conflict of uses in a transboundary basin. This further elicits an inquiry into the right to water in this context, particularly for vulnerable groups like children and women, as well as the rights of proximate Indigenous communities. Consequently, this panel will explore this issue.


Bokang Makututsa

Mr Makututsa is a result driven Advocate of the Courts of Lesotho with more than 15 years in the legal fraternity. Adept at drafting, reviewing and advising on natural resources policies, legal frameworks and corporate governance. He has been highly involved in the legal, policy and institutional reforms. He has been engaged and continues to contribute work on water resources management at both national and international levels. Acquired expertise during his years of service include skills in diplomacy and treaty negotiations.

Mr Makututsa is a water lawyer with keen interest in water resources management, transboundary water management, water services and governance. His earlier career focussed more on litigation in the Courts of Lesotho followed by intensive legal services and freelance consultancy.

He is currently serving the Government of Lesotho under Phase II of the Lesotho Lowlands Water Development Project financed by the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and European Union, providing legal services.

Owen McIntyre

Owen McIntyre is a Professor at the School of Law, University College Cork (National University of Ireland), Director of the LL.M. (Environmental & Natural Resources Law) Programme: and Co-Director of the Centre for Law & Environment: His principal research interests lie in the field of International Water Law. He is General Editor of the Journal of Water Law and has served as the inaugural Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law Specialist Group on Water and Wetlands, as a panel member of the Project Complaints Mechanism of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and as a member of the Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency. He holds visiting positions at the University of Dundee, Charles University Prague, Xiamen University and Wuhan University. He consults widely in the fields of International Water and Environmental Law for such organisations as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and European Union, and also advises river basin commissions (RBOs) around the world on transboundary water cooperation.

Create your website with
Get started