Borders and Water Conflicts: Mitigating Conflicts with Love and Cooperation

Peter J. Longo, Anthony B. Schutz, James M. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Borders are political constructs, not constructs derived from laws of nature. Borders carry more potential for conflict than any other matter in political relations. In international relations, wars have been fought over borders and territory. But, territory does not necessarily entail a dispute about the geographic location of a border. Trans-boundary natural resources disputes emerge because the laws of nature do not bend to this peculiar human construct. As much can be seen in international and intra-state water conflicts, where political boundaries provide individuals with a tribal identity that eclipses the power of natural resources to tie people together in basins. Nevertheless, despite the tribal power of these divisive disputes, cooperative approaches emerge. Water users from competing political jurisdictions – within and between states – greatly benefit from cooperative water policies and practices based on philia, brotherly love. But the conditions under which such mutual concern emerges are not universal. Law can bring them to bear, and it should. Once it does so, the philia-driven commitments are often drawn up in compacts or agreements that will bind the parties in a long-term relationship that is more or less reflective of their original philia. In this paper we analyze water disputes between Kansas-Nebraska, Texas-New Mexico, and Egypt-Ethiopia-Sudan, and evaluate how cooperative models, consistent with philia, are employed to mitigate water fights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-141
Number of pages17
JournalNatural Resources Journal
Volume62
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Law

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