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Understanding Water Regime Formation-A Research Framework with Lessons from Europe

Stefan Lindemann
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Stefan Lindemann: Stefan Lindemann is a Research Fellow at the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU). His current main research interests include international water policy and peace and conºict studies.

Global Environmental Politics, 2008, vol. 8, issue 4, 117-140

Abstract: International river basins are mostly characterized by upstream-downstream externalities that involve asymmetric incentives to cooperate and, therefore, suggest a high conflict potential between riparian states. However, with more than 400 river basin treaties, cooperation along international rivers by far outweighs water-related conflicts. The abundance of international water cooperation despite the odds is puzzling and has so far received little systematic attention. Against this background, I develop a research framework that draws on international regime theory and combines power, interest, knowledge and contextbased approaches to water regime formation. In a second step, I probe the plausibility of my framework in two case studies on international water cooperation in the Rhine and Elbe river basins. The empirical findings suggest that there is no "one-answer-fits-all" in trying to explain water regime formation. While power-based approaches are of limited explanatory value, a thorough understanding of cooperation along the two international rivers requires the combination of interest, knowledge and context-based arguments. (c) 2008 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Date: 2008
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