Disputes over International Watercourses: Can River Basin Organizations Make a Difference?

Disputes over International Watercourses: Can River Basin Organizations Make a Difference?
Blumstein, Sabine und Susanne Schmeier 2017: Disputes over International Watercourses: Can River Basin Organizations Make a Difference?. In: Management of Transboundary Water Resources under Scarcity . New Jersey: World Scientific, 191-236.

Water scarcity due to climate change, population growth, and economic development is a critical issue in many semi-arid and arid regions around the world. Water scarcity is especially critical in regions where water is shared by several riparian states and used for competing purposes (irrigation, domestic, industry, environment, and hydropower). There is evidence that water scarcity may give rise to conflicts among the riparian states that share water basins. At the same time, there is evidence that proper arrangements among riparian states create a basis for cooperation, which is a necessary condition for economic development, food production, environmental sustainability, and poverty reduction.

"Management of Transboundary Water Resources under Scarcity" presents a collection of work presented by a group of academics and policy experts dealing with the impact of water scarcity and variability on the ability to jointly manage shared water and the derived welfare of international states and nations sharing international river basins, consisting of economics, technology, law and institutions, geography, and international relations.

In their chapter, Sabine Blumstein and Susanne Schmeier ask whether and how international River Basin Organizations (RBOs) engage in the solution of disputes that arise over water resources in transboundary basins. They provide an overview of the global distribution of different RBO conflict-resolution mechanisms and analyse in greater detail two conflict cases: the Mekong and the Nile rivers. While the findings reveal that the existence of specific conflict-resolution mechanisms does not necessarily influence the effectiveness of dispute resolution, RBOs as a whole do matter in addressing water-related conflicts through a range of mechanisms beyond pure dispute-resolution mechanisms, including the provision of forums for negotiation and exchange, data and information, or notification procedures.