Institutional Evolution in the Mekong River Basin: Ensuring a Smooth Flow

Institutional Evolution in the Mekong River Basin: Ensuring a Smooth Flow

Presentation Type:
Oral Presentation

Sandeep Chulani, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

As climate change continues to put pressure on freshwater resources in Asia, how countries manage and share resources will be vital to ensuring access for all. Existing research has shown that institutions bear the highest likelihood of managing transboundary rivers in ways that are the most sustainable in maintaining water supplies. In the Mekong River Basin, two such institutions exist, both with the stated aims of cooperation, albeit with different institutional makeups. This study seeks to consider how the Mekong River Commission and the Lancang Mekong Cooperation shape national policies towards the river’s water, particularly towards the building of dams as a means to enable economic growth via power generation. Building on existing frameworks of interdependence, the question asked is: to what extent can existing theories pertaining to neoliberal institutionalism explain state behaviour towards water resources; and does building dams serve as a solution or a constraint to a good flow of both relations and water?
Proper understanding of how institutions shape national policies and vice-versa is crucial to ensuring more effective water management. I argue that the traditional understanding of liberal institutions falls short of explaining why dams are built on the Mekong. Instead, an alternative framework of international cooperation is required to engage with the Mekong institutions in order to secure water supplies. Drawing on recent Chinese and regional literature, this paper will show the current liberal international order focuses excessively on internal development, hence promotes dams, which eschews transboundary environmental - and ultimately human - concerns.

Presentation Date/Time: Sunday, December 11, 2022 (14:00)
Session: Session 3
Room: Inthanin Room

Posted by IAFOR

Find a Presentation

  • Reset