International Environmental Law and Trans-boundary Resource Co-operation Frameworks in the Lake Victoria Basin: An Assessment of Effectiveness


Robert Owino

Research Area:


Lake Victoria is a trans-boundary lake within the East African Community (EAC) shared by three riparian states of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda as well as two basin states of Burundi and Rwanda. The lake currently exhibits an acute ecological decline that the study attributes to unilateral state action in the lake as opposed to the establishment of a common regime for management of the lake as a common resource. The need for cooperation is foregrounded by the fact that states affect each other whether consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or otherwise and the interdependent nature of the lake compels the different states to work together in finding solutions to their mutual resource challenges that cannot be resolved in isolation. While there is consensus that cooperation remains the hub around which all efforts for trans-boundary governance in the Lake Victoria should revolve, there is very little consensus on how this cooperation should be achieved or what its exact components are. Cooperation is particularly difficult to achieve in resource areas such as fisheries and water abstraction in which states have significant vested interests that continue to generate conflicts among the riparian states. This research therefore inquires how international environmental law responds to the collective action problem in Lake Victoria particularly through application of the principle of international cooperation that is proclaimed in all legal instruments that relate to the lake. The study aims to evaluate on-going legal and policy harmonisation efforts among the Lake Victoria partner states and how they contribute to achievement of sustainable management in the lake.