The ‘Gänseliesel’ (Goose Girlis), a historical fountain erected in 1901, represents the most well-known landmark of the city of Goettingen.

Overcoming State-Centrism in International Water Law: 'Regional Common Concern' as the Normative Foundation of Water Security

Bjørn-Oliver Magsig



The peaceful management of the world's freshwater resources is one of the most challenging tasks the international community is facing. While 'water war' is a catchphrase mainly used by the media, one cannot overstate the disruptive force water disputes have on all aspects of socio-economic development and the environment. Furthermore, the accelerating global water crisis draws a dark picture in which the future may look nothing like the present. With rising demand and declining availability of key natural resources, the world might soon face a 'perfect storm' of food, energy and water shortages. A simultaneous occurrence of these crises would seriously threaten global stability, and thus endanger the very foundation of international security.

The aim of this paper is to contribute to progressive legal discourse by asking how the notion of 'regional common concern' can serve as a normative foundation of water security, in order to help overcoming the state-centrism in orthodox international water law. The refinement of international (water) law is vital; should it play a more prominent role in addressing the challenges of global water insecurity.


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