Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law


The Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Case and Water Law

Keywords water law, equitable utilization, no-significant harm rule, shared resource, Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros case
Authors Malgosia Fitzmaurice
Author's information

Malgosia Fitzmaurice
Malgosia Fitzmaurice: professor of international law, Queen Mary University of London.
  • Abstract

      The Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros case is one of leading cases in international law, which has crystallized and evolved knowledge in many areas of international law. This case is also immensely important and instrumental for the development of water law. The ICJ observed the importance of a common right and cooperation in the shared resource and has laid down the foundation of the further development of modern water law. The ideas, which have originated in this case were later fully developed and unpacked in other cases of the ICJ dealing with water law, such as the Pulp Mills and Costa Rica/Nicaragua cases. The Court has emphasized the importance of the management of shared water resources and linked it to general environmental law. It has also supported and relied on the principle of equitable utilization. The ICJ confirmed the right of Hungary to an equitable and reasonable share of the resources of an international watercourse and supported the concept of common utilization of shared water resources. The ICJ adopted a very forward-looking approach to water law. It has taken into consideration the provisions of the 1997 Convention which was in force at the time, as codifying the principles of water law and shared water resources, such as equitable utilization principle and the no-significant harm rule. It may be said that the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros case is a direct continuation and development of the River Oder case, which has laid down the foundations of contemporary international water law.

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