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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
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View the document3.1. Introduction
View the document3.2. The nature of water conflicts
Open this folder and view contents3.3. Paradigms for analysis of international water conflicts
Open this folder and view contents3.4. An interdisciplinary approach to water basin analysis and conflict resolution

3.1. Introduction

In chapter 2, I presented the hydropolitical background of the Jordan River watershed, which has been described as "having witnessed more severe international conflict over water than any other river system in the Middle East" (E. Anderson in Starr and Stoll 1988, 10). I concluded the chapter with the question "What is to be done?" In this chapter, I develop a framework to try to answer that question.

Just as natural water flow ignores international boundaries, so, too, does the evaluation of water resources transcend the analysis of any single discipline. Water, by nature, necessitates an interdisciplinary analysis. Through its physical components, we measure the quantity, quality, and variability of water sources. Because we need to develop an infrastructure to harness water for human use - storage and delivery systems, for example - an engineering component should be incorporated into the analysis. Furthermore, because water can be owned, bought, sold, and traded, its analysis takes on legal, economic, and political aspects as well. Finally, because water is a resource that, when scarce, can induce both conflict and cooperation, water can become a subject for alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

After a short description of the particular nature of international water conflict, and of water as a unique strategic resource, this chap ter explores separately how each of several disciplines treats water as a resource and as a subject of conflict. The disciplines offered are the physical sciences, law, political science, economics, game theory, and ADR.

In the final section, "An Interdisciplinary Approach to Water Basin Analysis and Conflict Resolution," I try to bring together lessons learned through each discipline in a single framework for evaluation. The technical and policy options that might be proposed for any watershed are listed, and a method for evaluating each option, dependent on three measures of viability - technical, economic, and political - is described. In chapter 4, I apply this "interdisciplinary approach" specifically to the Jordan River watershed.