Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database | Publications

Jägerskog, Anders. 2003. Why states cooperate over shared water: The water negotiations in the Jordan River basin. Linköping University. Ph.D. dissertation. [PDF file]

Water is the source of life. In many religions it is portrayed as something sacred a gift from God. Water is required for almost all a society's activities, such as the very visible ones of washing and cooking, but also in less visible areas such as food production. While in certain areas access to clean water is plentiful, in many parts of the world this is not the case.

It is therefore no surprise that increasing attention is being given to the importance of the world's water resources and aquatic systems. The rising demand for water is due to a variety of factors, such as population growth and urbanisation. The sustainable management of water resources is extremely important in the developing world, which is continually faced with a lack of the financial resources, infrastructure and human resources needed to improve water management. Today, more than 45 per cent of the world's population lives in internationally shared river basins. The increasing pressure on the limited freshwater resources in places such as the Middle East , Southern Africa and Southern Asia makes greater and deeper knowledge of how to manage transboundary waters essential.

While it was previously assumed that shared waters could and would be a source of conflict and even war, it has been demonstrated more recently that they can serve as a strong unifying force if addressed in a coherent manner. A database compiled by Aaron Wolf's institution at Oregon State University , comprising all the water agreements on international watercourses ( ), shows that states tend to find ways to reach agreement rather than to engage in conflict over shared water resources. There is still a need, however, to understand why and under what conditions such cooperation occurs. Furthermore, it is of interest to analyse the quality of that cooperation.

The aim of this study is to analyse why and under what conditions cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and Jordan has taken place and how it has functioned in the water sector. The study focuses on the water aspects of the respective peace negotiations as well as the implementation of what has been agreed upon. It therefore moves beyond the existing material which states that transboundary water cooperation does occur material which is ample in a quantitative sense by exploring why cooperation has occurred in the Jordan River Basin .