Transboundary water interaction II: the influence of ‘soft’ power

Zeitoun, Mark, Mirumachi, Naho and Warner, Jeroen (2011) Transboundary water interaction II: the influence of ‘soft’ power. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 11 (2). pp. 159-178. ISSN 1567-9764

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Abstract

This paper seeks to broaden the analysis of transboundary water interaction, by examining and interpreting the influence of ‘soft’ power therein. The ‘soft’ power of persuasion is understood to be exercised through discursive and to a lesser extent ideational means, and is interpreted in terms of compliance related to distributive (conflictual) or integrative (consensual) ends (after Scott (1994)). The focus is on inter-state water conflicts in hegemonic political contexts, where, it is found, the ‘first among equals’ has a greater ability to exploit ‘soft’ power and to determine the outcome. ‘Soft’ power is also seen to influence the choices states make or avoid in their transboundary water interaction, which explains in part how treaties intending to manage conflict may in fact delay or perpetuate it. For example, ‘soft’ power can be used by the basin hegemon to frame inequitable forms of cooperation in a cooperative light, such that unfair and ultimately unsustainable transboundary arrangements are replicated by the international donor community. Non-hegemonic riparian states also employ their capacity of ‘soft’ power, though may find themselves with little choice other than to comply with the arrangement established by the basin hegemon. The findings stress the importance of analysts questioning claims of interaction promoted as ‘cooperative’, and of examining the ‘soft’ power plays that underlie all transboundary water arrangements. Exemplification is provided through transboundary river basins and aquifers around the globe.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of International Development
Depositing User: Mark Zeitoun
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2013 10:28
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2020 16:56
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/41553
DOI:

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