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A critical assessment of international relations theories for managing transboundary water resources: The case of the Nile basin

Yohannes Woldemariam, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Abstract

In Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia the connection to water is intertwined with culture and history. It cannot fully be captured by game theory based on the assumption of strategic action. Neither perceived threats to national security nor do fundamental value conflicts allow for ‘rational’ solution. Nor are market mechanisms adequate in explaining the behavior of actors around issues of water. The challenge in addressing a range of questions on transboundary river basins is one of a theoretical framework. To what extent are coherent explanatory models embedded in social theories helpful in evaluating the Nile case? The search for generalized rules has led to scholarship in which predictability, parsimony and simplicity is the measure of academically acceptable approaches and methodologies. In light of the complexity of the region where the Nile is located, narrow focus and false parsimony of theoretical concepts can oversimplify to the point of being misleading. There are a range of subjective meanings and values that water has in different societal contexts that are not amenable to the dominant international relations theories. This study utilizes a critical pluralist approach to assess existing IR theories in general and regime theory in particular. Critical pluralism can capture those aspects of culture; history and contexts attached to water that are not amenable to positivist social science and the dominant international relations theories. ^

Subject Area

International law

Recommended Citation

Woldemariam, Yohannes, "A critical assessment of international relations theories for managing transboundary water resources: The case of the Nile basin" (2007). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3299125.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI3299125

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