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close this bookHydropolitics along the Jordan River. Scarce Water and Its Impact on the Arab-Israeli Conflict (UNU, 1995, 272 pages)
close this folder3. Towards an interdisciplinary approach to water basin analysis and the resolution of international water disputes
close this folder3.4. An interdisciplinary approach to water basin analysis and conflict resolution
View the document(introduction...)
View the document3.4.1 Summary of disciplinary survey
View the document3.4.2 Towards an interdisciplinary approach
View the document3.4.3 Water and its evaluation

3.4.1 Summary of disciplinary survey

Each of the disciplines surveyed offers useful tools and guidelines for water basin analysis. The physical sciences offer several practical options, both for increasing water supply through such measures as desalination and waste-water reclamation, and for decreasing demand, through more efficient agricultural practices. Other technical options offered included other political entities - through shared information and technology - and other water basins, through water transfers.

A discussion of law has revealed that, although assignment of water rights is requisite both for addressing past and present grievances, and for the establishment of water markets, the current state of international water law is not sufficiently developed to handle the task. Treaties, which can be negotiated using the principles of ADR and incorporating the guidelines of "dispute systems design" to encourage ongoing conflict resolution, are both site and conflict specific. Emphasis, therefore, might be placed on water-sharing and basin-development treaties, incorporating the contentious issues raised historically of "equity" ("Who gets how much?") and "control" ("From where, and whose hand is on the tap?").

Political science suggests strategies for reducing water use within each country, informed by the relative salience and power of each of the groups of water users. A discussion of international relations has suggested some ambiguity over whether increased international integration of water planning and projects leads to increased stabilization or the opposite, to increased points for contention. This discussion, combined with the lessons offered in the section on history and in the field of dispute systems design, may reinforce the contention that both joint planning and joint water projects may be designed in a progression of cooperation toward the goal of ever-increasing integration, but starting with "small and doable" projects safeguarding the need for each political entity to have direct control over its own primary water source.

Economics offers the useful tools of the benefit-cost analysis, to help provide a method of comparative measurement of water projects, and the water market, which could help to increase efficiency both within each entity and internationally. Prerequisites for the latter include allowing the price of water to reflect its true costs and the clear assignment of water rights, both of which, we found, present difficulties under the current conditions. Some policy guidelines were offered as well, including allowing the price of water to reflect the costs associated with its development, treatment, storage, and delivery, as mentioned above, which might lead to greater efficiency of water use and greater incentive both for water-saving research and even for international cooperation.

A brief discussion of game theory has suggested that the field offers options both in terms of predicting the strategies that might be chosen by entities in competition over water, and for analysing the distribution of pay-offs for potential cooperative projects, for a variety of possible coalitions.

Finally, ADR offers guidelines for the process of resolving conflicts, from prenegotiation, to the process itself, to guidelines for implementation. Suggestions have been made for when a party should, or should not, be at the negotiating table to begin with, and what can be expected, given each party's "bargaining mix." The recent subfield of ADR, "dispute systems design," offers methods to incorporate the dynamics of conflict resolution into the institutions that deal with conflicts. Some of these methods may be applicable to physical systems of cooperation as well.