Research Grants

Seeking “Arenas of Justice” on Transboundary Rivers: A Rights-Based Approach to the Food-Water-Energy Nexus on the Salween and Mekong Rivers

Center for Social Development Studies,
Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University,
ThailandLength of research: 1
yearResearch objectives: This research
addresses the question: “How can a “nexused rights-based approach” to water
governance on transboundary rivers further the protection of the human rights
of riparian communities in Southeast Asia beyond existing water governance
based on the International Watercourse Law?” The research goal is to
strengthen accountability of large hydropower construction on transboundary
rivers through a rights-based approach, and to identify and reinforce “arenas
of justice” through which accountability may be
achieved.Significance of research: Mainland
Southeast Asia’s two major international rivers – the Mekong and Salween –
are central to the food security, livelihoods and culture of millions of
people. Increasingly fulfilled plans for large hydropower dam construction,
whilst generating seemingly cheap electricity, place environmental and social
costs on to affected communities whose substantive and procedural human
rights are often threatened.There is growing recognition of the relationship
between the environment and human rights. In 2012, the Independent Expert on
Human Rights and the Environment argued that these are: substantive
obligations; procedural obligations; and an obligation to take account of
groups who may have particular vulnerabilities to environmental harm. In
addition, recent developments in international human rights law have
furthered the principles of extra territorial obligations (ETOs). Both are
relevant to cross-border investments in large hydropower projects.In 2014,
the International Watercourse Law entered into force, although how it relates
to international human rights law remains poorly defined. Regarding natural
resource management and hydropower, meanwhile, the concept of the
“food-water-energy nexus” (the nexus) is emerging as an important research
and policy agenda, although it has been critiqued for insufficiently
considering human rights and justice.Personal
Carl_MiddletonDr. Carl Middleton is a Lecturer on the Master of Arts in
International Development Studies (MAIDS) Programme and Deputy Director for
International Research in the Center for Social Development Studies in the
Faculty of Political Science of Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. Before
joining the MAIDS program in 2009, he spent six years working with
international and local civil society organizations throughout the Mekong
Region on issues related to sustainable development. His research focuses on
environmental policy and politics, with a particular interest in the
political ecology of water, land and energy in Southeast Asia and
environmental justice.

About the author