Weathering climate change: Can institutions mitigate international water conflict?
Although the subject remains contested, some have speculated that climate change could jeopardize international security. Climate change is likely to alter the runoff of many rivers due to changes in precipitation patterns. At the same time, climate change will likely increase the demand for river water, due to more frequent droughts and greater stress being placed on other sources of water. The resulting strain on transboundary rivers could contribute to international tensions and increase the risk of military conflict. This study nevertheless notes that the propensity for conflicts over water to escalate depends on whether the river in question is governed by a formal agreement. More specifically, the article argues that the ability of river treaties to adapt to the increase in water stress resulting from climate change will depend on their institutional design. It focuses on four specific institutional features: provisions for joint monitoring, conflict resolution, treaty enforcement, and the delegation of authority to intergovernmental organizations. Treaties that contain more of these features are expected to better manage conflicts caused by water stress. This expectation is tested by analyzing historical data on water availability and the occurrence of militarized conflict between signatories of river treaties, 1950â€“2000. The empirical results reveal that water scarcity does increase the risk of military conflict, but that this risk is offset by institutionalized agreements. These results provide evidence, albeit indirect, that the presence of international institutions can be an important means of adapting to the security consequences of climate change by playing an intervening role between climate change and international conflict.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:1:p:211-225. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publishing)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.