The peaceful resolution of U.S.-Mexican transboundary water disputes

by Alyssa M. Neir, Michael E. Campana, Economists for Peace and Security, 2007
Language : English

To deal with boundary and transboundary water issues along their border, the United States and Mexico established the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) in 1889. Initially dealing only with surface water flows, its flexibility permitted changes such that groundwater and water quality issues could be addressed. In 1994, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada adopted the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) primarily to facilitate trade, but which can govern water as an article of commerce. Both NAFTA and the IBWC have been instrumental in promoting peaceful solutions to water issues. This article by Alyssa M. Neir and Michael E. Campana examines three cases: (1) Mexico’s protesting of a U.S. plan to line the All-American Canal on the Mexico-California; (2) the underdelivery of Mexican Rio Grande water to the U.S. state of Texas; and (3) the case of an aquifer entirely within Mexico whose supply is being stressed because of a shift in agricultural production prompted by NAFTA. The article concludes that both countries should: (1) develop a more formal system for groundwater issues and (2) exercise vigilance with respect to NAFTA’s ability to treat water solely as an economic good.

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Neir, Alyssa M., and Michael E. Campana. 2007. The peaceful resolution of U.S.-Mexican transboundary water disputes. The Economics of Peace and Security Journal 2/2: 42-48.