Environmentalists fret over an imminent onslaught of international wars over water. As global warming dries up the earth, the idea is that countries will increasingly go to war with each other over the remaining water. The reasoning makes sense, but according to Wendy Barnaby in Conservation, research into water and war doesn’t back up the fear. “Predictions of armed conflict come from the media and from popular, non-peer-reviewed work,” according to Barnaby, and not from reality.
“People who are short of water do not necessarily fight over it,” Barnaby writes. Her findings are backed up by the research of water negotiator Aaron Wolf, profiled in the July-August issue of Utne Reader. In the war-torn Middle East, there have been plenty of power struggles and politics, but no wars over water. The wars have been more about borders, security, and statehood. Instead there have been continuing negotiations and even cooperation over water resources. And, as Wolf notes, “India and Pakistan have a water treaty that has survived since 1960—through two wars. In the middle of one of the wars, India made payments to Pakistan as part of its treaty obligations.”
Water privatization and resource grabs by multinational corporations continue to be a serious issue. In international relations, however, water may be a more powerful motivator for peace and negotiations than it is for war.
Source: Conservation (Article not available online.)