Document Type : Article


1 MA Student, School of International Relations, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Prof., School of International Relations, Tehran, Iran


Groundwater constitutes approximately 98% of the world’s accessible freshwater resources. Since population growth and climate change are increasingly putting pressure on water resources, groundwater protection and management is of paramount importance for life on earth. Many aquifers are in peril due to poor governance and insufficient legal frameworks. While surface water has been given considerable attention, groundwater has not received the same recognition, where the number of international agreements for rivers or lakes is outnumbering those applicable to transboundary aquifers. The earliest articulation of an international legal regime specifically applicable to these transboundary groundwater resources is found in the work of the International Law Association in its Helsinki Rules of 1966. Nearly seventy years later, following six years of research by International Law Commission, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution containing nineteen Draft Articles on transboundary aquifers. However, there are no more than ten treaties that have aquifer-specific legal mechanisms in international context so far. These facts lead to lack of established laws and procedures with respect to aquifers. Furthermore, when it comes to practice, there is plenty of ambiguity about the applicability of the principles over aquifers and groundwater which are naturally adopted from the surface water law.


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