Violations, Opportunities and Power along the Jordan River: Security Studies Theory Applied to Water Conflict

  • Mark Zeitoun


This chapter examines the applicability of recent developments in the field of security studies to water conflict issues in the Jordan River basin. Neumann’s contribution to the Copenhagen School of security studies, particularly the concept of the ‘violization’ of politics, is discussed alongside Warner’s contribution of the concept of ‘opportunitization’. Both concepts incorporation of the insight garnered through consideration of the guiding rationale of the state and non-state actors. It is shown that a combination of these concepts results in an expanded security continuum (non-politicized — politicized — securitzed/opportunitized — violated) that is directly relevant to the analysis of water conflict issues between Palestine and Israel. Warner identifies the prime concerns, goals and power of actors in different security sectors to develop the concept of ‘security sector goals’.

Two case studies from 2002 are considered: the water infrastructure damages in the West Bank and the Wazzani River dispute between Lebanon and Israel. Dynamics revealed by the application of the theory include a split on positions between actors normally considered aligned on one side of a conflict (for example between sub-national level Palestinian water professionals and their national level representatives); the ability of governments to obscure or enhance water conflict issues to suit other unrelated political interests; the varying position that a conflictual issue can take along the security continuum in relation to time and circumstance and, perhaps most notably, the effect of power asymmetries between competing actors active in issues that have become violated.


security conflict water violization opportunitization Palestine Israel Jordan River 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Zeitoun
    • 1
  1. 1.King’s CollegeLondon

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