INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

IR461 POL.OF WATER RES. IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Course Code: 3140461
METU Credit (Theoretical-Laboratory hours/week): 3(3-0)
ECTS Credit: 6.0
Language of Instruction: English
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Course Coordinator: Assoc.Prof.Dr. AYŞEGÜL KİBAROĞLU
Offered Semester: Fall Semesters.

Course Objective

The course will address many dimensions of the transboundary water resources management and will analyse evolving water management paradigms. Moreover the introductory part will encompass the reasons for current scarcity of water in the world in general, and in the Middle East in particular. Facts and figures and their implications on the relations among the riparian states will be discussed. In this context, the terminology that will be extensively used during the lectures will also be presented e.g., upstream, riparian, transboundary, watershed, equitable, allocation. Secondly, the course is designed to highlight why water plays such an important role in the international relations of the Middle East by looking into the past and potential inter-state disputes over water with specific references to the Nile, Jordan and Euphrates-Tigris river basins. The origins and the evolution of the water disputes in these regions, historical overview of water negotiation frameworks, and the initiatives for cooperation are discussed by and large. There are discussions on the merits of the principle of equitable utilization and the needs-based, the benefit-sharing approaches.

Course Content

One of the most pressing issues of the new millenium will be the management of limited freshwater resources in the world as they are becoming more and more scare. Since an important number of these resources in the Middle East are transboundary rivers, the complexity of the problem increased as it became an issue at the international level. As a result, water has become a strategic asset since the early 1990s. Against this background, the course is considered in mainly four parts with a view to elaborate on the causes of conflict as well as on the prospects for cooperation over transboundary water resources in the Middle East, where special attention will be paid to the situation in the Euphrates-Tigris river basin.

Learning Outcomes

The course will progress with the analysis of the possible situations of conflict or cooperation over the use of limited water resources of the Middle East. The focus will be set on the ongoing debate among scholars from various fields of science on the issue of utilization of the disputed waters in the region, as well as the likelihood of a conflict that would be a result of the worsening situation of water supply demand balance. In the debate one can delineate basically three groups of scholars whose views can be associated with either of the three influential schools of thought in the International Relations theory such as realists, political economists, and neo-liberal institutionalists. Realist, for instance, assert that as water becomes more and more scarce, it will become a major source of a conflict that may escalate to armed struggle. With a view to elaborate on the most fashionable concepts of water wars the outstanding scholars of this school will be introduced. Notwithstanding the realists arguments, alternative and innovate approaches come from political economists as well as neo-liberal institutionalists. Both schools are, indeed, rich in ideas to find cooperative solutions to actual and potential water-led crisis. For example, political economists view water as a part of complex national and international political economies of the Middle East, and draw a rather optimistic picture by utilizing powerful economic models. On the other hand, institutionalists argue that water related disputes stem from inequitable and ineffective utilization of limited resources. Hence, they argue that solutions to the problem can be provided only through institution-building efforts by the concerned parties. In neo-liberal institutionalist contention, the works of international organizations e.g., the United Nations and its special agencies like the World Bank and FAO as well as the international law community can be highly instrumental in providing the necessary ground on which institutions can be built. Therefore, the course will also examine the legal framework essential to govern the usage of international water courses. Similarly, serious attempts by the international law community to arrive at a consensus over the factors that need to be taken into consideration when a conflict over allocation and sharing of waters takes place between states will also be discussed.