International River Basins as Regional Security Communities: The Okavango River Case

  • Douglas de Castro


Due to the uneven water distribution around the world, population growth, high pressure over economic output (mostly food production) and an increasing number of sources of pollution, the use of water in international river basins will be under stress in the near future. However, why we won’t observe a crescent number of acute conflicts or wars? It is the opposite; States in the presence of water scarcity tend to engage into cooperative behavior embracing principles such as equitable and rational use to mention a few, but why? This chapter takes an interdisciplinary framework comprised by international law and theory of international relations and a constructivist approach for analyzing the quality of cooperation over transboundary water. The argument of the chapter is that the increasing sophistication in cooperation process over shared water produces important implications to international security in the river basins, thus, reaching the point of the formation of regional water security communities. At empirical level, the chapter presents evidences of the existence of a water security community in the Okavango River Basin, which demonstrates that even in challenging political and physical environments, as in the case of Sub-Saharan Africa, it is possible to achieve a high level of cooperation and institutional design that includes principles of governance and peaceful conflict resolution.


Water scarcity Cooperation Security communities Okavango River Basin 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.São Paulo School of Law (FGV)São PauloBrazil

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