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Water as a Catalyst for Peace:

Transboundary Water Management and Conflict Resolution



By Ahmed Abukhater, Ph.D.




Examining international water allocation policies in different parts of the world, this book suggests that they can be used as a platform to induce cooperation over larger political issues, ultimately settling conflicts. The main premise is that water can and should be used as a catalyst for peace and cooperation rather than conflict.


Evidence is provided to support this claim through detailed case studies from the Middle East and the Lesotho Highlands in Africa. These international cases – including bilateral water treaties and their development and formation process and aftermath – are analyzed to draw conclusions about the outcomes as well as the processes by which these outcomes are achieved. It is demonstrated that the perception of a particular treaty as being equitable and fair is mainly shaped by the negotiation process used to reach certain outcomes, rather than being determined mechanistically by the quantitative allocation of water to each party.


The processes and perceptions leading to international water conflict resolutions are emphasized as key issues in advancing cooperation and robust implementation of international water treaties. The key messages of the book are therefore relevant to the geo-political and hydro-political aspects of water resources in the context of bilateral and multilateral conflicts, and the trans-boundary management of water resources, which contributes insights to political ecology, geo-politics, and environmental policy.





"It is often thought that water issues are divisive and a likely source of war. Many water experts consider this mistaken and that water can and should be a source of cooperation. Abukhater’s book examines various water disputes and shows that water treaties can indeed lead to cooperation and mutual benefits." – Franklin M. Fisher, Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Microeconomics, Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA


"When I think about recent research on water security, the key process lessons Dr. Abukhater highlights fit quite nicely… It is vital to the long-term success of transboundary water management that water professionals and water users give more attention to the issues raised in this book." – from the Foreword by Lawrence Susskind, MIT and Harvard Law School, USA


"Water breathes life into landscapes. Water binds people together and divides people from one and other. Water enables some people to prosper while others struggle. Water divides rich from poor, the healthy from the ill, the leafy from the dusty. This is especially evident in times and places of aridity. The fair allocation of water lies at the heart of Ahmed Abukhater’s Water as a Catalyst for Peace. The author views water as a potential "venue for cooperation" and suggests useful strategies to pursue this course. Furthermore, Dr. Abukhater argues that water can be a catalyst for cooperation, peaceful interactions, and regional stability. As a result, his book offers a clarion framework for those interested in equity, environmental sustainability, and a peaceful planet." – Frederick Steiner, Dean, School of Architecture and Henry M. Rockwell Chair in Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin, USA


"We tend to think of scarce natural resources as generators of conflict. This book turns that idea on its head and urges us to think of co-riparians as more than just rivals. Abukhater’s principles of process equity help us tame the wicked problem of cross-border water allocation." – Paul C. Adams, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Urban Studies, University of Texas at Austin, USA


"A good addition to the many existing water negotiation frameworks, especially for those practitioners who desire to link equity, in its myriad forms, into the process of governance. Written through the direct experience of a native Palestinian, the book introduces another transformative approach to conflict resolution that integrates rules of engagement, mechanisms of engagement, and neutral third-party mediation that is worthy of serious consideration by Middle East scholars in water diplomacy." – W. Todd Jarvis, Director, Institute for Water & Watersheds, Oregon State University, USA


Anthem EnviroExperts Review:

We should be looking for transformative approaches to water negotiations


“The central argument of Water as a Catalyst For Peace is that water negotiations can be used to promote cooperation if equity is ensured.”


“This is a well-written and useful book for anyone interested in transboundary water management, conflict resolution or bilateral management of natural resources. It skillfully demonstrates the potential to use ‘low’ politics (i.e. hydro-diplomacy) as an entry point into ‘high’ politics (e.g., international relations).”



PALESTINE: Peace by Piece

Transformative Conflict Resolution for Land and Trans-boundary Water Resources

By Ahmed Abukhater, Ph.D.

  • Provides evidence that water can be used as a catalyst for peace

  • A unique approach to resolving international conflicts in the Middle East

  • Gives a diagnostic account of negotiated settlements and how these shaped current relationships leading to multiple wars in Gaza


This book draws lessons and conclusions, based on the methodology outlined in the author's previous book, Water as a Catalyst for Peace (Routledge, 2013), and further charts the course to a more practical framework for achieving regional stability and justice. Past agreements are examined and analysed, outlining the change along the way that occurred to the land and people of Palestine.

The book is written with the intention of exposing past events that led to the current situation, evaluating the current state of the conflict in light of new circumstances and the reality on the ground.  Viable options are explored to seek a practical and satisfactory negotiated settlement that ensures justice and viability. 


In conclusion, a roadmap for future direction is proposed to achieve equitable water allocation through proper negotiation between Israel and Palestine and to ultimately settle the conflict. Water resources allocation is at the heart of this pragmatic framework and roadmap.

Table of contents (5 chapters)

  • Historical Context—Tracing the Origins of the Problem

  • De-mystifying the Conflict: A Diagnostic Account of the Middle East Geopolitical Landscape

  • A House Divided—The Requiem for the Two-State Solution

  • Previous Agreements—A Chronicle of Sordid Treachery

  • A Pragmatic Conflict Resolution Framework


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Water as a catalyst for peace: transboundary water management and conflict resolution
Water as a catalyst for peace: transboundary water management and conflict resolution
Water as a catalyst for peace: transboundary water management and conflict resolution
Water as a catalyst for peace: transboundary water management and conflict resolution
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