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Chapter 15: Studying international water conflict

Abstract : This chapter identifies the contrasting theoretical perspectives that aspire to understand and explain economical, environmental, political and social tensions over freshwater. Drawing on International Relations, it provides a fourfold framework to study water conflicts. First, it considers the physical condition of the resource to understand (and predict) the potential tensions over freshwater. Secondly, it focuses on power relations that frame and condition water resources exploitation. Thirdly, it discusses how securitizing speech acts can label freshwater as a source of conflict and then influence the actual water interactions. Fourthly, it considers the evolution of cooperation and conflict over time focusing on actors’ configurations. The chapter then applies these four dimensions to study the India/China Brahmaputra River case. The framework provides an exhaustive and integrated analytical approach necessary to capture the complexity of actual conflict-cooperation situations over freshwater. The chapter concludes on conflict resolution and cooperation facilitating conditions.
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Lucile Maertens, Géraldine Pflieger. Chapter 15: Studying international water conflict. Mara Tignino. Research Handbook on Freshwater Law and International Relations, Edward Elgar Publishing, pp.367 - 390, 2018, 9781785360640. ⟨hal-03393816⟩

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