Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database | Publications

Wolf, Aaron T., Kerstin Stahl and Marcia F. Macomber. 2003. Conflict and cooperation within international river basins: The importance of institutional capacity. Water Resources Update, Vol. 125. Universities Council on Water Resouces. [PDF file]

This paper outlines the initial findings of a study conducted by the Basins at Risk (BAR) team at Oregon State University that quantitatively examines the history of international water relations and the geographical and political setting in which that spectrum of interactions has evolved. With both physical and social variables in one database, linked by basin, hypotheses of indicators of conflict are explored, suggesting the centrality of institutions in ameliorating water disputes. On the climate side, analyses demonstrate that historically, extreme events of conflict were more frequent in marginal climates with highly variable hydrologic conditions, while the riparians of rivers with less extreme natural conditions have been more moderate in their conflict/cooperation relationship. These findings are then followed by recommendations regarding the role that universities can play to aid the international community and riparian nations in building effective institutions to manage shared water resources.