McGeorge School of Law

International Water Diplomacy Calls McCaffrey to Serve Chile

December 3, 2018

The team representing Chile in its dispute with Bolivia over a shared watercourse with the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera.

The team representing Chile in its dispute with Bolivia over a shared watercourse with the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera. The team consists of agent Ximena Fuentes, co-agent Juan Ignacio Piña, case coordinator Johanna Klein Kranenberg, international lawyers Steve McCaffrey (third from left), Laurence Boisson De Chazournes, Sam Wordsworth and Alan Boyle, and international scientists Howard Wheater and Dennis Peach, along with scientific coordinator José Francisco Muñoz. Ambassador Maria Teresa Infante also serves as co-agent on the team.

Professor McCaffrey at the summit of the Cerrito Silala, a hill more than 14,000 feet high that overlooks the springs in Bolivia from which the watercourse at issue originates.

Professor McCaffrey at the summit of the Cerrito Silala, a hill more than 14,000 feet high that overlooks the springs in Bolivia from which the watercourse at issue originates.

Stephen McCaffrey, McGeorge School of Law’s Carol Olson Endowed Professor of International Law, traveled to Chile on Nov. 5 as part of the team representing the country in its dispute with Bolivia over a shared watercourse, the Silala River. He is one of the foremost authorities on international water resources law.

The President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, invited the team to the Presidential Palace, La Moneda, for discussions about the case.  The team also toured the site of the dispute during the trip.

McCaffrey has recently received two prestigious awards in recognition of his impactful service in the development of international environmental law. He received the 2018 Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy in particular for his work as special rapporteur for the International Law Commission on the preparatory work for what became the 1997 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International WatercoursesMcCaffrey was named the 2017 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for his unparalleled contribution to the evolution and progressive realization of international water law.

McCaffrey has served as counsel to States in a number of cases before the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and continues to do so with this latest work with Chile. Beginning in 1999, he advised Palestine on water issues in the context of permanent status negotiations with Israel. McCaffrey was the legal consultant to the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework project, which resulted in the Cooperative Framework Agreement between Nile Basin States. He has consulted for States and international organizations in different regions of the world, including Africa, Asia, South America and Central America. McCaffrey has served as Special Legal Adviser to the Secretariat of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation of the environmental side-agreement to NAFTA. He was elected Regional Governor of the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL) by ICEL members from North America in 2012 and continues to serve in that capacity. McCaffrey has served as Counselor and as a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law, the preeminent organization in the field.

On the McGeorge faculty since 1977, McCaffrey’s work continues to influence scholars, legal practitioners and policy-makers and contribute to the sustainable and peaceful management of shared waters.