SPIRe Seminar Week 6: “African Waters: The Cooperation Question.”

SPIRe’s Week six seminar will feature SPIRe PhD student, Mr.Paul Quinn presenting on his research “African Waters: The Cooperation Question” from 12:00-13:00 Wednesday, February 27th  in G316 Newman Building, UCD Belfield.  All are welcome.


Natural resource management poses challenges at multiple levels of governance; this is particularly true of transboundary water systems. No single approach is adopted internationally and each instance is characterized by diversity. Interactions between states range from verbal hostilities or military actions, to regime formation and cooperation; with instances of conflict and cooperation often occurring in tandem. This highlights the importance of riparian strategies and the effects of management approaches. It also poses many unanswered questions for International Relations ‘types’, who seek to understand the dynamic nature of multistate interactions.

Current research on issues of water security generally, and the effects of climate change in particular, focus on the climate change–‐conflict nexus and challenges posed by population growth, dependence and migration patterns. The issue of cooperation and governance has been dealt with to a much lesser extent, focusing on individual state roles. Many studies dealing with regime formation have relied on theoretical assumptions without a substantive empirical argument. Furthermore, while it is believed that regimes have significant impact on multi–‐lateral negotiations, these mechanisms have not occurred in all instances nor have they been equally resilient. This project analyses transboundary collective action problems associated with water management and is driven by an empirical puzzle: why successful regime formation, leads to successful conflict resolution and management solutions in some cases but not in others, and why is it that if a regime does not emerge, it sometimes leads nevertheless to successful conflict resolution and management solutions, but not in other instances. It follows the thread to success by answering two research questions. Firstly, how and under what conditions are transboundary cooperative regimes established to manage shared resources and mediate disputes between riparian states? Secondly, how effective are these regimes in resolving conflicts and achieving management solutions?

These research questions, not only how regimes are established, but also their efficiency as a mechanism to mediate potential disputes. In doing so, it fills an empirical gap in the research on how states manage conflict and collective action problems associated with transboundary waters. To do this a multivariate model is put forward, addressing strategies for long–‐term mutual gains and the conditions required for regional harmony; tested through four case studies on the basis of most similar systems design. The project investigates the conditions in which riparian ‘games’ are played and offers a valuable contribution to understanding the barriers and catalysts to successful cooperation.



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