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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

Cooperative watershed development

Principles for confidence-building

Given the vital need for a regional water development plan that incorporates the political realities of the region and given the limitations imposed by economics and hydrologic conditions, steps that might be taken are described below.

A recently developed sub-field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) called "dispute systems design" focuses on a process for integrating the potential for ADR into public institutions and other organizations that deal with conflict. Dispute systems design as described by Ury et al. (1988) may offer lessons about enhancing cooperation in water systems as well. Although most of the work in this field describes the incorporation of cooperation-inducement into organizations, some of the same lessons for "enhancing cooperation capacity" (Kolb and Silbey, 1990, p. 300) or "design considerations" (O'Connor, 1992, p. 87) and "design guidelines" (McKinney, 1992, p. 160) might be applicable to technical or policy-making systems as well. For example, a water-sharing agreement, or even a regional water development project, might also be designed from the beginning specifically to induce ever-increasing cooperation as the project incorporates ever-increasing integration.

The preceding survey of history suggests that cooperation-inducing strategies might also be incorporated into the process of implementation. This section offers examples of "cooperation-inducing implementation." General guidelines include the following:

1. "Dis-integrating" the control of water resources to address past and present grievances. Many plans for water development in the Jordan River watershed incorporate the premise that the increased integration of institutions or water projects is an impetus to greater political stability.5 Although the advisability of striving towards ever-increasing integration is recognized, as is the fact that "lasting peace among nations is characterized by a broadly based network of relations" (Ben-Shahar, 1989, p. 1), it is nevertheless suggested that, for resource conflicts in general and for water conflicts in particular, it should first be ensured that each entity has adequate control of an equitable portion of its primary resource. Thus, past and present grievances need to be addressed, before embarking on projects of cooperation or integration.

Because much of the past conflict over water has concerned ambiguous water rights, any attempt at developing cooperative projects that precedes the clarification of these rights would be building on years of accumulated ill will. The clear establishment of property rights is also a prerequisite for any market solutions that might be applied, such as water banks or markets. Furthermore, as mentioned previously, the political viability of international planning or projects depends on each entity agreeing on the equity of the project (e.g. who gets how much) and on control of the resource (who exercises control, and from where). Necessary steps include:

- negotiating property rights to existing resources,
- guaranteeing control of a water source adequate to meet future needs, and
- addressing the issue of equity within the design of any cooperative project.

Since these steps involve a separation of control over resources as a precondition to "integration," this process might be referred to as "dis-integration. "

2. Examining the details of initial positions for options to induce cooperation. Each of the parties to negotiations usually has its own interests foremost in mind. The initial claims, or "starting points" in the language of alternative dispute resolution, often seek to maximize those interests. By closely examining the assumptions and beliefs behind the starting points, one might be able to glean clues about how to induce some movement within the "bargaining mix," or range within which bargaining can take place, for each party. These underlying assumptions (and beliefs) may also provide indications for the creative solutions necessary to move from distributive (e.g. "win-lose") bargaining over the amount of water each entity should receive to integrative (e.g. "win-win") bargaining, i.e. inventing options for mutual gain.

3. Designing a plan or project, starting with small-scale implicit cooperation and building towards ever-increasing integration, always "leading" political relations. Building on the first two steps, riparians of a watershed who have clear water rights and control of enough water for their immediate needs might begin to work slowly toward increasing their cooperation on projects or planning. It has been shown that even hostile riparians can cooperate if the scale is small and the cooperation is secret. Building on that small-scale cooperation, and keeping the concerns about equity and control firmly in mind, projects might be developed to increase integration within the watershed, and over time even between watersheds.

In addition to these three principles, a viable agreement should also incorporate mechanisms to cope with future misunderstandings that will need to be resolved. The circumstances that bring about a conflict are seldom static; neither are the conditions that bring about agreement. This is particularly true for hydrological conflicts, where supply, demand, and understanding of existing conditions change from season to season and from year to year. Finally, crisis management for droughts, floods, and technical failures (e.g. dam or sewage facility) must also be addressed.

The design of a plan or project can incorporate a feedback loop to allow for greater cooperation as political relations develop, encouraging the project to remain always on the cutting edge of political relations. A process for ongoing conflict resolution would also help to relieve tensions that might arise because of fluctuations in the natural system. This process of "cooperation-inducing-design" can be applied to water rights negotiations, to watershed planning, or to the development of cooperative projects for watershed development.