Damming the Indus waters : Thoughts on the future of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty and Himalayan water security

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-222
Journal / PublicationJournal of Water Law
Issue number5/6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


Water treaties are instrumental in resolving transboundary water-related conflicts. However, structural and operational shortcomings can make them ineffective in dealing with future challenges. This article analyses the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) between India and Pakistan. Over the years, questions have been raised concerning its scope, particularly regarding its lack of adequate stakeholder participation and provisions on environmental protections, issues which are now exacerbated by the proliferation of Indian dam projects that have led to disputes between India and Pakistan. This article evaluates the framework and weaknesses of the Indus Waters Treaty, particularly in terms of its scope (ratione materiae and ratione personae). Namely, (i) the absence of specific rules within the IWT to tackle emergent environmental concerns brought about by Indian dam projects on the Western Rivers in Indian Administered Kashmir (such as the Baglihar and Kishenganga dams) and (ii) non-participation of relevant state (China) and non-state (Kashmiri people) stakeholders. The article will also appraise to what extent interpretations provided in the Baglihar Decision/ Kishenganga Awards as well as international water law jurisprudence have closed some of the identified gaps in the treaty. Finally, some recommendations for the path towards ‘outcome cooperation’ and sustainable water development in the region will be provided.