Working Paper
Flood Pulses, International Watercourse Law, and Common Pool Resources

a Case Study of the Mekong Lowlands

In river basins around the world, formal agreements based on international watercourse law are seen as important mechanisms for promoting sustainability and cooperation. While such agreements have been effective in avoiding conflict between states in the short-term, success at the international scale can, paradoxically, undermine the foundations of ecological and social sustainability at the local scale, thereby threatening long-term stability. To investigate reasons for this problematic, cross-scale institutional interplay, the paper draws on a case study from the Mekong lowlands, a common pool resource upon which millions of people depend for their livelihoods.