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International water issues

The Treaty of the Plata River, signed in 1969 and entered into force in 1977, worked for several years as a political interconnection between Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Its main objectives are the wise use of water resources; regional development with preservation of flora and fauna; physical, fluvial and terrestrial integration; and promotion of greater knowledge of the basin, its resources and potential. The treaty can be considered as a precursor, in the preservation of the environment and the generation of infrastructure and communication in line with what, over two decades later, would be MERCOSUR (CIC, 2012).

The Treaty and the international instruments that resulted from it created and gave functions to the different bodies (CIC, 2012):

  • The intergovernmental coordinating committee of the countries of the Plata river basin (CIC) is the executive body of the System of the Plata river basin, composed of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, responsible for promoting, coordinating and monitoring the progress of multinational actions for an integrated development of the Plata river basin. It consists of representatives from each of the member countries.
  • The governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay signed in 1974 the Financial fund for the development of the countries of the Plata river basin (FONPLATA), an entity with international legal status, which was created to act as the financial body of the Treaty on the Plata river basin. Its mission is to give technical and financial support for studies, projects, programmes and initiatives which work to promote the harmonious development and physical integration of the members countries of the Plata river basin.
  • The intergovernmental committee of the Paraguay-Parana waterway (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) is in charge of navigation.
  • Given the importance of the Guarani aquifer in the region, shared between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, it was agreed in 2003 to start the “Project for environmental protection and sustainable integrated management of the Guarani aquifer system” to be financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), with support from the World Bank and the Organization of American States (OAS) (IICA, 2010).
  • Several international commissions.

The Amazon Cooperation Treaty (TCA) was signed in 1978 by Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela and entered into force for Brazil in 1980. The basic scope of the TCA is to promote the harmonious development of the Amazon, in order to allow an equitable distribution of the benefits, to improve the quality of living of its peoples and to achieve the full incorporation of their Amazon territories to the respective domestic economies. In 1995, the countries members of the TCA created the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) to strengthen the implementation of the Treaty.

Other treaties include: (i) the cooperation agreement for the use of natural resources and development of the Quaraí river basin; and (ii) the treaty for the use of shared natural resources of the bordering stretches of the Uruguay river and its tributary, the Pepiri-Guaçu river, between Brazil and Argentina.


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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