Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Jennifer Taw

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Rights Information

© 2013 Van-Anh Su


The Mekong River is a crucial shared resource that flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Over 80 million people have traditionally depended on the river to sustain their livelihoods. However, recent large-scale dam projects present serious consequences to the environmental security of the riparian states. In particular, dam construction by upstream countries poses negative socioeconomic and environmental externalities to downstream countries. Such a dynamic has incited regional tension and set a precedent for river management along national lines rather than as a collective good.

Given such circumstances, this paper investigates whether the Mekong countries can transition to a cooperative regime that prioritizes the sustainable development of the river. In particular, this paper assesses the feasibility of achieving sustainable river cooperation by (i) analyzing the conditions that enable or hinder river cooperation, and (ii) investigating the extent that bargaining and benefit-sharing strategies can promote the long-term well-being of the river. The paper finds that the lack of credible commitment to the river’s sustainable development at both the regional and domestic levels renders cooperation for Mekong sustainability unlikely at this time.


  • Best Senior Thesis in International Relations

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.