|Abstract: ||The Nile River Basin, the Indus River Basin and the Mekong River Basin are all case
studies of transboundary water conflict between states. In all these cases there are existing political mechanisms that, with the support of key international actors such as international organizations and foreign countries, contribute to water cooperation. The goal of this paper is to use a liberal institutionalist framework to summarise and assess the respective success of these political mechanisms, and the role of certain key international actors. This assessment will be done to enable recommendations to improve these mechanisms and develop an understanding of the role of certain international actors in their development and function.
The results of this paper show that the institutional design of the political mechanisms
active in these case studies are key to their effectiveness. The Nile and Mekong basin
mechanisms for example do not have substantive conflict resolution processes. The Indus River’s mechanism does have such a process and has had historic success in encouraging water cooperation between the two rivals of India and Pakistan. Notably, the World Bank was central to the design and function of the Indus River mechanism this can potentially be a key example towards improving the implementation of water cooperation mechanisms.
To summarise the recommendations, using a liberal institutionalist framework this paper shows that political mechanisms such as regional cooperation institutions can assist it mitigating power politics and steering water conflicts towards cooperation. Certain international actors have historically been important to the function and evolution of these types of cooperative mechanisms and should continue this role. With international support and renewed institutional design these mechanisms can steer water conflicts towards cooperation even in an era of growing water scarcity and environmental insecurity.|