Volume 20/1

Seyedahmad Hosseini & Prerna Yadav

The Significance of Traditional Legal Framework in Regulating Groundwater Rights in Iran

Throughout history, water has been a crucial resource for the survival and development of civilisations worldwide. The legal framework for water regulation has been shaped by a complex system of formal and informal norms, rules, and regulations that have evolved over time in response to changing social, political, economic, and religious contexts. Groundwater resources have become increasingly important globally, and it is necessary to study how access to this resource has been determined in this context. Iran provides a valuable case study for understanding the evolution of the legal framework governing groundwater rights due to its long history and dependence on groundwater through the Kariz system. This paper examines the role played by changes in Iran’s religious and socio-political context in articulating groundwater rights, particularly the right to access groundwater, from the Sassanid Empire (224 CE) to the 1906 Iranian Constitution, covering a period of approximately 1700 years. Schlager & Ostrom’s framework for common pool resources is used to analyse this evolution in groundwater rights. Our analysis shows that though groundwater rights have primarily been treated as private rights, the changing socio-political and religious context through the centuries has helped with its regulation and management as a common pool resource. The study does not explore the process of management and the actors responsible for it which needs further elaboration to understand groundwater regulation.

Dr Paul Samuel Tamuno & Dr Uzuazo Etemire

Legal Inquiry into Mechanisms for Addressing the "Black Soot" Problem in Rivers State, Nigeria

Port Harcourt, a city in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, has been plagued by the menace of soot in the last few years. This soot pollution, which has caught international attention has been attributed primarily to the widespread artisanal refining of stolen crude oil in illegal makeshift refineries and the burning of confiscated refineries with their chemical content by Nigerian military and para-military security agencies. This article examines in detail the causes of soot pollution in Port Harcourt, its impact on the environment, as well as the governments (inadequate) efforts to provide a solution to the menace. Importantly, the article addresses the primary question of what legal options are open to citizens and members of the public who wish to take action to address the soot pollution in order to protect their interests and enhancing the sustainable development of the city of Port Harcourt.

Vicent Bartholomew Mtavangu

The Efficacy of Administrative Orders and Sanctions in Regulating Corporate Environmental Crimes in Mining Areas in Tanzania

Administrative orders and sanctions take a lion’s share among the environmental regulatory techniques in the Tanzanian mining areas. They are preferred by environmental enforcement agencies to regulate corporate environmental crimes, among others because they are administered at low cost. Despite such prevalence, most of the mining companies, even those that were previously served with environmental administrative orders and sanctions, have never stopped committing environmental crimes. Thus, this paper argues that environmental administrative measures do not have a deterrent effect against mining companies that largely commit environmental crimes. As such, they should be amalgamated with the civil and criminal modes of enforcement for effective regulation of corporate environmental crimes in mining areas.

Al Khanif & Fenny Tria Yunita

Food and Land Policies amid the Agricultural Land Conversion in Indonesia

This article examines the shifting of land and food legal policies in Indonesia. It also discusses legal and political contexts, including historical and current contexts of policies on land and how such policies influenced Indonesian political spectrum. Firstly, it discusses the chaotic land ownership during the Sukarno Old Order era (1945-1966), followed by food politics under the Suharto New Order (1966-1998) and how the regime used rice as a political commodity. To give a more comprehensive analysis, the article then discusses the massive land conversion after Suharto era and how it affected expansion of agricultural land in the outer regions of Indonesia. The article also covers the extent to which the central government has developed legal policies to sustain their agricultural products in Indonesian national development plans. This article concludes that the national strategic project has become one of the main challenges in protecting agricultural land. The government must ensure that the land conversion should be aligned with the needs and priorities of farmers and rural communities to maintain sustainable development of the agriculture sector in Indonesia.

Germarié Viljoen

Public Trusteeship, the Reserve and the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus: Implications for Social Justice in South Africa’s Water Law

This study explores how South Africa’s water law has evolved to ensure fair and equitable access to water resources after the country’s transition to democracy. Emphasis is placed on the transformative impact of the National Water Act 36 of 1998 (NWA), which effectively ‘nationalised’ the country’s water resources. The NWA asserts water as ‘a scarce natural resource that belongs to all people’. To facilitate the notion of water belonging to all, the NWA introduced ground-breaking concepts like public trusteeship and the Reserve to the landscape of South African water law. The paper delves into the legal intricacies of the novel concepts, and enhances their practical application by integrating them within the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus framework. The paper critically reflects on the WEF Nexus framework and explores the extent to which the WEF framework supports or undermines gains made by the concepts of public trusteeship and the Reserve. The overarching aim is to elucidate their combined implications for social justice in the context of South Africa’s water law.

50 Years of Water Law in India

Looking Back & The Future

A title, 250-word abstract and short biography should be sent to Ms Jessy Thomas, LEAD Journal Managing Editor, by 28 February 2024.

More information for authors can be found on our Submissions page.

LEAD Journal publication ethics can be found here.

India has a long history of explicit water laws rooted in its colonial past. However, in the 1970s, India became one of the first countries of the global South to establish extensive water legislation that focused on environmental aspects and formulated rules for abatement of water pollution, contesting water uses and integrated science-based governance of water resources. These water laws led to the establishment of regulatory and intermediary institutions, the setting up of formal rules, the evolution of governance norms and the rise of an extensive water bureaucracy. During the initial years, the water laws and policies were largely state-driven and state-centric, based on command-and-control principles. Eventually, after the 1990s, the focus shifted to more hybrid and market-based arrangements and ideals. The water laws and policies have significantly shaped India’s waterscape, economy and society. After 50 years, it is pertinent to examine the water laws and policies’ capacity to achieve the stated goals and reflect on the missed opportunities and neglected spheres, especially from the environmental and developmental perspectives. These reflections are crucial in a context where India wishes to achieve the SDGs by 2030 at a time when developmental policies are becoming more polarised, emphatic and human-centric. India is among the top five economies in terms of total GDP and number one in terms of population; however, it still accounts for a vast marginalised and vulnerable population. The growing economy, industry, and society need access to adequate and ‘safe’ water resources in an era greatly altered by climate change, mega-disasters and uncertainties.

This special issue will be a multi-disciplinary attempt to collectively reflect on the social life of water laws formulated during the last five decades in India and their impact on society, economy and environment. What are the current states of water resources in India, and how have the legislation and other socio-economic and political factors shaped the use and governance of water? How are legislations viewed in a changed political economy (dominated by neo-liberal and populist values) by the dominant (state-based, business, international actors, scientists) and other actors (common public, civil society, indigenous groups)? Using the socio-legal lens and the capacity of these laws to bring positive developmental and regulatory changes, we will analyse the role and effectiveness of law in promoting socio-economic goals and helping achieve scientific and environmental objectives for science-based integrated water governance. How will the landscape of water legislation evolve in future? In a nutshell, apart from examining the past, this endeavour will reflect on the future challenges for effective water governance and legislation-making in a rapidly transforming emerging economy.

The themes which it will cover:

  • State capacity and in-capacity to formulate and implement water laws
  • Market-based governance and water laws
  • Judiciary and water laws
  • Implementation gap
  • Emerging pollutants
  • Plastic pollution and laws
  • Climate change laws and water
  • Cross-cutting water governance
  • Law communication
  • Traditional values vs. legal regimes

Book Reviews

Litigating the Environment: Process and Procedure Before International Courts and Tribunals

By Justine Bendel

Published by Edward Elgar (2023)

Reviewed by Collins Odote