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Water plays a very important part in the social, economic and cultural life, and the religious belief of the people of the Mekong region. Challenges faced by Mekong Basin countries in their endeavours for economic development are increasingly related to water. The Mekong River with its length of over 4,800 km is one of the longest and largest rivers in Asia, and supports very productive and diverse fresh water ecosystems in the world, second only to the Amazon. Its flows through 6 countries - China, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam - before reaching the South China Sea. Transboundary nature of the Mekong River resources requires regional solution. The paper attempts to search for that solution from the management and institutional perspective. The analysis will follow along the line of the argument that water crisis is mainly a crisis of governance, and for the water issues of regional magnitude like the one in the Mekong Basin, requires a more integrated and comprehensive solution to it. The need for a search for "the most appropriate regional institution for improved regional governance for the Mekong River Basin" must be raised further especially among those decision-makers in the governments, international organizations and programmes concerned, and other major stakeholders.

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The term "soft power" was coined by Joseph S. Nye Jr. of Harvard. The definition of soft power has expanded over the years and continues to grow. In most contexts, the United States is the focus of debate over its use of or lack of soft power and the appropriateness and positive or negative effects generated. In more recent times, China has had a diplomatic makeover and has begun utilizing its soft power capabilities. By no means is China able to surpass the United States soft power capabilities. As China's economy and influence in the region continue to grow however, China as an alternative to the United States can become a reality. This thesis focuses on China's soft power in its relations with its Southeastern neighbors (Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos) and takes as a case study its impact on China's development plans for the Lacang-Mekong River. I determine how the utilization of soft power tools allows China to pursue its development plans with minimal interference from the other five riparian countries. The thesis is in four sections. They assess a) what is soft power and its tools; b) how China applies its soft power on its Southeastern neighbors; c) how this affects China's efforts to participate in development of the Lacang-Mekong River; and d) what the implications are for the United States?
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Mekong peoples – despite past and present differences, within and between countries – are increasingly connected by challenges which transcend state borders. A Mekong Region is increasingly becoming a reality, encompassing the territory, ecosystems, people, economies and politics of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China’s Yunnan Province. This book (448 pages) provides local writers’ perspectives on a wide range of significant, often related, social challenges. They discuss, in a Mekong Region context: international economic integration, the rise of transnational civil society, the relationships between Mekong states and external powers, changing geopolitics, poverty, government policies affecting ethnic minorities, gender inequity, industrialization, labour migration, human rights, HIV-AIDS and drug use, biotechnology impacts on agriculture, uplands land use, fisheries disputes, access to natural resources, state approaches to sustainable development, and the governance of Mekong River and regional infrastructure ‘development’ projects. Neatly summarizing this diversity is neither possible nor desirable. However, one message is clear, Mekong Region challenges require a wider spectrum of regional perspectives to be heard, more learning, and, to an extent, concerted action.
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The opportunities for the six states that share the Mekong River to benefit directly from its joint management are more limited and the risks to the livelihoods of downstream communities from development schemes more important than the historic rhetoric of Mekong development has implied. Changes in the broader political and economic context have sidelined the Mekong River Commission, the one institution charged with regional cooperation to manage the river. Improved regional governance in the decades to come depends upon efforts by many actors to raise the incentives for intergovernmental cooperation, expand civil society engagement, and strengthen mechanisms for cross-border accountability.
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"Transboundary Environmental Governance outlines some of the threats and opportunities to the natural environment of increased economic and political cooperation in the region. Integration risks creating more winners and losers among local people who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. Integration also has the potential to promote greater environmental security and social equity when these concerns are incorporated in regional planning. The report assesses the effectiveness of existing regional institutions-the Mekong River Commission, Association of Southeast Asian nations and Asian Development Bank-in addressing transboundary environmental challenges and their social impacts. The report looks at how the institutions' structures, including their mandate, capacity, and membership, affect their ability to manage transboundary issues. The report argues that in addition to righting their structural shortcomings, the agencies must improve their governance practices. The three regional bodies must reach out and involve the public in a broader range of development planning, implementation and monitoring processes, and must strengthen their accountability to direct stakeholders, if they are to achieve sustainable development goals."
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MRC-UNEP, "Mekong River Basin Diagnostic Study Report", (1997).
Sustainable Utilization of International Drainage Basin Resources: Its Application in the Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin
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Sokhem Pech, "Sustainable Utilization of International Drainage Basin Resources: Its Application in the Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin", Calgary University, (1995).
UNESCO creates 'Water Cooperation Facility' to meditate water disputes
  • Amy Otchet
Amy Otchet, "UNESCO creates 'Water Cooperation Facility' to meditate water disputes", UNESCO Media Services, (2003)