Experts on water law from around the world to meet at UNE

Published 21 December 2010

waterExperts in environmental law from six continents will meet at the University of New England in early January to discuss the role of law in addressing conflicts over water around the world.

The participants in UNE’s “Water Law” colloquium on Wednesday the 5th and Thursday the 6th of January will travel to Armidale from Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Iceland, South Africa and the United States, as well as from within Australia.

Hosted by the UNE School of Law’s Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law (AgLaw Centre), the colloquium aims to bring a human perspective to a debate that has hitherto been dominated by scientific and economic considerations.

“The more socially-oriented role of law in water conflict has rarely been considered,” said one of the colloquium’s organisers, Dr Amanda Kennedy, the Deputy Director of the AgLaw Centre. “The importance of the human dimension, and the need for laws that can more effectively address that dimension, are highlighted by the continuing disputes over the Murray Darling Basin Plan. This meeting will provide new insights into how such conflicts could be addressed.”

The Head of UNE’s School of Law, Professor Jürgen Bröhmer, said that the AgLaw Centre at UNE was in an ideal position to convene such an international conference. “The conference will feed into the first issue of the new International Journal of Rural Law and Policy that will be published mid-year by UNE’s School of Law,” Professor Bröhmer said. “The intention of the Law School is to position the AgLaw Centre as one of the eminent research institutes in Australia – and internationally – in issues ranging from the environment, natural resources and energy to rural law, justice and governance.”

In their introduction on the Web site, the organisers say that “the aspiration of the colloquium is to propose new directions for water law to address ways to advance economic growth, fair resolution of conflict, and social justice.”

Speakers at the colloquium will discuss water law and its social implications in relation to subjects such as climate change, the environment, agricultural water use, trans-boundary water flows, property rights, international waters, and energy and mining. Among the presenters will be Professor Du Qun, Deputy Director of the Research Institute of Environmental Law at Wuhan University, China, speaking on “Trans-boundary water flows, conflict and the rule of law in China”, Professor Michael Kidd, Director of the Institute of Environmental Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (“Poisoning the right to water in South Africa: What can the law do?”), and Kristín Haraldsdóttir, from the Institute on Natural Resources Law at Reykjavik University, Iceland (“Property rights to water and social conflict – an example from Iceland”).