The Devils Lake controversy: why Canada and the United States need a new bilateral understanding in light of the evolving law of international watercourses

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Signorelli, Andrea
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Recent transboundary disputes between the United States and Canada and in particular, the dispute concerning Devils Lake outlet, call for an improvement of the agreements between the two countries that govern North American international watercourses. One way to do so is by assimilating the cooperative spirit contained in the more recent 1997 U.N. International Watercourses Convention and incorporating its guidelines for balancing different principles and interests into the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between the United States and Canada. This paper analyzes the different theories and main international legal instruments in the area of transboundary waters within the context of the issues arising out of Devils Lake and its outlet. It is proposed that the Boundary Waters Treaty be vastly improved by increasing the participation of both the Canadian provinces and the American states as well as renewing and enhancing the role of the International Joint Commission.
international watercourses, transboundary pollution, Boundary Waters Treaty, environmental law