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Argument: Global commons of water resources helps maintain international security

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Supporting evidence

  • A.R. Turton. "Water And State Sovereignty: The Hydropolitical Challenge For States In Arid Regions". Columbia International Affairs Online, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. March 1, 1999 - "Berel Rodal (1996), whose work was published on the Internet by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), provides another illuminating insight as to where theory is heading. According to Rodal (1996), environmental issues appear to affect security in a fundamental way through their potential to give rise to stresses that can make societies ungovernable, threatening both the physical and political viability of communities. Consequently, the availability of water seems likely to become increasingly problematic as a result of pollution, depletion and population growth. This in turn is likely to lead to the trans-boundary migration of people affecting the stability of regimes in the developing world. An example of the significance of environmental issues, is the point made by Rodal (1996) that “authoritative studies support the view that in significant measure the Soviet Union collapsed because of the way in which it treated the environment”. Consequently, Rodal (1996) concludes that, “there appears to be a developing doctrine to the effect that respect for national sovereignty should not preclude intervention by third parties. … It would be illogical not to extend such a right (or duty) on the part of the international community to protection of global environmental interests—a perspective which deepens concern in countries whose views and interests are different than Western notions of sustainable development, and which should be considered a potential source of North-South conflict”. He goes on to say that, 'environmental protection might well seem to populations in the North to necessitate and to legitimize intervention in Third World countries' (emphasis added). Therefore, he sees the environmental issue as being symbolic of the complexity of the emerging global security agenda, becoming a new force that will shape the spirit of international politics in the next century. In other words, the environmental agenda is seen to be the most salient feature of the post-Cold War era, with the emergence of truly global issues such as the health of the global environment. Within the context of this newly emerging paradigm, 'meeting the environmental challenge will require new conceptions of security and the national interest, and new forms of action and co-ordination. … The existing international political and economic system, grounded in the parochial interests of states and industries, is seen as a major part of the present environmental problem' (Rodal, 1996). In short, if Rodal’s view is valid, then it marks the emergence of a new legitimacy that will fuel the challenge to the sovereignty of states in the developing world, because it is largely in the developing world where unresolved environmental related sensitivities seem to be located."
  • "Better management of international watercourses can strengthen national sovereignty by ensuring more reliable access to higher quality water, thus averting the civil strife which can be caused by water shortages or interruptions of services and making for healthier, more secure states. National Sovereignty should be seen as a social construct which provides a geographical and institutional framework very important to basin management and reduces the likelihood of tensions arising over water, not as the basis by which states can claim absolute rights to watercourses that are by nature shared resources."

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