An International Water Market: a Proposal

Keith S. Porter, Cornell University
Ian J. Silverbrand, Cornell Law School


An international water market would revolutionize the water industry and international law. We propose the creation of an international water exchange. An international water exchange would promote the economic reallocation of water resources. Such a mechanism would reduce many of the present and potential problems that are derivative of the world’s water distribution problems. Water would no longer be allocated strictly as a result of hydro-geography or political power and water poor regions of the world would no longer be destined to an eternity of thirst. We explain how an international water exchange would operate and organize and regulate itself such that the numerous beneficial consequences of economic water redistribution would result. We also explain how the creation of an international water exchange would affect international law. We conclude that the implementation of our proposal would create the necessary preconditions for the human right to water to become a legally-binding imperative. We also argue that if the proposed exchange were structured in a particular way, then some of international economic law’s burdensome terms may not be implicated and concerns expressed by the majority of international water law scholars can be circumvented.