Arenas of Water Justice on Transboundary Rivers: A Case Study of the Xayaburi Dam, Laos

TitleArenas of Water Justice on Transboundary Rivers: A Case Study of the Xayaburi Dam, Laos
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsMiddleton, Pritchard
Secondary AuthorsBlake, Robins
Secondary TitleWater Governance Dynamics in the Mekong Region
SectionChapter 3
PublisherStrategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD)
Place PublishedSelangor, Malaysia
Key themesHydropower, Transboundary Governance

How the concept of justice in water governance should be understood and applied to transboundary rivers is increasingly the subject of critical analysis, including with regard to human rights-based approaches (HRBA). This book chapter (ch3) proposes “arenas of water justice” as a heuristic approach to analyze the politicized spaces of transboundary water governance in which a process for claiming and/or defending the right to water and the environment or seeking redress for human rights violations take place. It discusses recent developments in international regimes, namely the International Watercourse Law, human rights and corporate accountability. The arenas of water justice approach is applied to a case study of the Xayaburi Dam, a heavily contested project under construction on the Mekong River’s mainstream in northern Laos. The chapter concludes by arguing that transboundary arenas of water justice and the associated extra-territorial obligations implicit to them will become increasingly significant, not only in the context of large hydropower dams on transboundary rivers in Southeast Asia, but more widely as the region proceeds to economically integrate under the ASEAN Economic Community.


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Laos, Regional, Thailand

Document Type

Book Chapter