The Legal Management of International Watercourses and Its Impact on Relations With the Reference to Turkey, Syria, and Iraq Over the Utilization of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Law (SJD)



First Advisor

Professor Paul S. Kibel

Second Advisor

Professor Dr. Ashmeed Ali

Third Advisor

Professor Dr. Gustave A. Lele


Increasing demand for the most valuable and irreplaceable freshwater due to the rapidly growing population, irrigation expansion, urbanization, industrialization, and climate changes, requires the international community urgently cooperate to regulate and manage the international watercourses for Non-navigational uses. Therefore, the adoption of the UN Watercourses Convention is one of the most successful efforts that have been accomplished in the 21st century in this regard. As the Euphrates and Tigris rivers are not exempted from this dramatic changes, also having no comprehensive multilateral agreement between the three main riparian led to damage the two rivers, ultimately, affected the inhabitants of the two rivers especially downstream states. Turkey, Syria, and Iraq as a co-riparian are required to cooperate in managing and developing the two rivers in the way that satisfy at least the basic human needs for freshwater. Conversely, they should take the human right to water under consideration during negotiation over the shared freshwater, especially in the Euphrates and Tigris region.

The relationship of the Riparian Turkey, Syria and Iraq of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers has been examined. The utilization of the two rivers equitably and reasonably has been discussed as well as the doctrine of the no significant harm and their implementations have been investigated and referenced to the case of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.

Implementation and the enforcement of the rules and principles of international watercourses related to the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers have become an extra challenge since Turkey has not signed or ratified the UNWC. Meanwhile, the substantive and procedural rules as instruments of international law serve the riparians to resolve problems that likely will arise from the utilization and development of the two rivers because they set up obligations and rights on the riparian states.

Even though the riparians of the Euphrates and Tigris in favor of the principles of the convention or against it, it is concluded that the UN Watercourses Convention is relevant to the Euphrates and Tigris basin and incorporates important customary principles and rules that could help address the problems in the basins. It is also held that the Convention provides the riparian states with an appropriate legal framework that could be used as the basis for negotiation as to how to apply, manage, and develop the resources of the basin to the benefit of all riparian states.


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