Josh Freeman, a 3L at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, recently published a paper titled “Taming the Mekong: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of a Mekong Basin Joint Energy Development Agreement” in the Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal.
The paper, written for Robert Adler’s International Resource Conflicts seminar, was inspired by a reading assignment, according to Freeman: “we read an article about international conflict over China building hydroelectric dams on the Mekong River. That article concluded that there was no legal recourse available for the downstream riparian states that much of their economies and subsistence depended on the river. I found the situation fascinating as it demonstrated a situation where international law failed because of the disparity of power of the countries involved: China, Myanmar, Laos PDR, Cambodia, and Thailand.”
Freeman began researching and writing the paper with a focus on whether the solution to the problem could be negotiated despite the fact that international law didn’t provide any remedies to the small downstream states. The result, he says, was a paper on multi-party negotiation, using China’s construction of dams on the Mekong River as its focus.
With Adler’s encouragement, Freeman eventually submitted the paper to dozens of journals focused on environmental law, negotiation and Asia. Although many quickly rejected the submission, others sent email replies explaining that the article was being considered for publication. After several months, he was “ecstatic” to receive a notice from the Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal congratulating him on having his article accepted. “I couldn’t believe what I was reading,” he says. “I was so thrilled to accomplish that as part of my law school career.”
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