Treaties can be a non-starter: A multi-track and multilateral dialogue approach for Brahmaputra Basin

Anamika Barua, Sumit Vij*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Countries sharing the Brahmaputra River have for decades deliberated on formulating and implementing cooperative strategies to develop the potential of the basin. Yet, little progress has been made so far at the government-togovernment track 1 level in achieving regional cooperation due to the diverse national interests of the riparian countries. This has led to tension and friction among co-riparian nations and mistrust at political level. Drawing from the Brahmaputra Dialogue, this paper aims to highlight the merit of multi-track and multilateral dialogue processes for building trust and confidence between the riparian countries - paving a way towards transboundary cooperation. The paper concludes that given the geo-politics and the national interests of each riparian nation, negotiation for a treaty for cooperation through track 1 diplomacy, in the Brahmaputra River Basin (BRB), is a non-starter. Multi-track and multilateral dialogues can provide a platform to pursue positive interactions and can be viewed as an extension to existing state-diplomacy in BRB, to bring about sustainable change in the basin management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1041
Number of pages15
JournalWater Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support to the Brahmaputra Dialogue Project by the South Asia Water Initiative (Grant no. 7178069) and the Asia Foundation, India (Grant no. 20009.540.001). The authors would like to extend their appreciation for provision of the necessary organizational support and for allowing them access to the Brahmaputra Dialogue workshops. We would also like to thank Juna Probha Devi (PhD Scholar, IIT Guwahati) for creating the Brahmaputra basin map. Lastly, we would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback.

FundersFunder number
South Asia Water Initiative7178069
Asia Foundation20009.540.001


    • Brahmaputra River Basin
    • Dialogue process
    • Multi-track
    • Multilateral
    • South Asia
    • Transboundary


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