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close this bookCentral Eurasian Water Crisis: Caspian, Aral, and Dead Seas (UNU, 1998, 203 pages)
close this folderPart IV: The Dead Sea
close this folder10. Principles for confidence-building measures in the Jordan River watershed
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentBackground
View the documentHydrography
View the documentInternational water rights law
View the documentCooperative watershed development
View the documentTechnological and management alternatives for the future
View the documentConclusions
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentNotes
View the documentReferences


Since regional water talks began in May 1992 in Vienna, Austria, in the context of multilateral negotiations between Arabs and Israelis, the inhabitants of both banks of the Jordan River have been meeting on and off to see if, after years of unilateral development, they can treat the watershed as nature designed it - one integral unit. It has long been known by hydrologists and demographers, and is increasingly recognized by policy makers, that a political solution cannot be reached among Israel, its Arab neighbours, and Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza without addressing regional water shortages. However, because watershed planning lends itself to a regional approach, and because issues of water are also tied to issues of regional security and immigration, resolving conflict over water may become the most tractable of the subjects to be dealt with during regional peace negotiations. Resolving water conflicts could provide the opportunity for the confidence-building steps necessary to reach accord over other, more contentious, topics as well.

This chapter summarizes the hydropolitical conflict between the riparians of the Jordan River watershed, evaluates methods for achieving equity in water rights claims, and provides some options for water projects to be developed in cooperation-inducing stages, as changing political developments allow.

I first survey the current hydropolitical positions of the co-riparians as well as the physical hydrography of the region. I then describe the current status of international water law and the legal challenges of Jordan River hydropolitics. Borrowing from "dispute systems design," a comparatively recent sub-field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), I go on to describe how water projects may be implemented in cooperation-inducing stages - the principles for confidence-building. The challenge for political leaders in the watershed is putting these principles into practice. The final section describes many of the technical and policy options that have been proposed both to increase water supply and to decrease water demand in the region. These technical and policy options are organized to be developed step-wise, with greater benefits accruing with greater regional cooperation.