Left, right and centre – Policy note – Water for peace, what contributions to climate change action?

Across the global water community, thought leaders, non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, academia and communities of practice are increasingly "positioning" themselves on the water-climate intersection. The second article in our research insight series “Left, right and centre” outlines the Geneva Water Hub’s positioning on climate change, and more specifically on the interlinkages between climate change and global water crises. 


Geneva Water Hub contribution to the Special Rapporteur on the rights to water and sanitation's thematic report to the 78th session of the UN General Assembly "The rights to water and sanitation as a tool for peace, prevention and cooperation"

On 19 October 2023, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation is releasing his contribution as Thematic Report to the 78th session of the UN General Assembly "The rights to water and sanitation as a tool for peace, prevention and cooperation". The Geneva Water Hub's contribution to the report is available below.


Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law - Dispute over the Status and Use of the Waters of the Silala (Chilev Bolivia): Is the International Court of Justice falling short?

This case note offers insights into a decision of the International Court of Justice onthe legal dispute between Chile and Bolivia over the nature and use of the Silalawaters and its implications for international water law. It begins with two positivenotes, namely, the recognition of the unity of the Silala waters (natural and artificiallyenhanced flows) and the use of science and expert evidence to resolve the dispute.


Inaugural lecture by Prof. Laurence Boisson de Chazournes - L’Eau en droit international : entre singularité et pluralité - Collège de France Editions

Essential to life and human activity, freshwater is a concern in international law. Its regulations, initially devoted to rivers shared between several States, gradually shifted towards other sources of water. Today, its scarcity, the need for a sustainable allocation of its uses, its use as a weapon of war, its vulnerability to environmental degradation or the prevention of disputes are all issues that call for a mobilization and strengthening of international law.


Article - Exploring friendship in hydropolitics: The case of the friendship dam on the Asi/Orontes river

“Friendship dams” are an explicit, yet underexplored, materialization of hydropolitics that illustrate the potential role of water in international cooperation. Via a case study analysis of the Syria-Turkey Friendship Dam project proposed for the Asi/Orontes river, we trace the process of cooperation that led to the use of this notion of “friendship” in transboundary cooperation. Using a transversal analysis ofdifferent phases of cooperation and non-cooperation, we consider broad, big-picture political and diplomatic factors related to water and beyond.


Article - Why negotiate water problems when we can deliberate water solutions?

On 21 March 2023, the Geneva Water Hub contributed to the monthly edition of Nature Water "Research in support of the UN 2023 Water Conference" series. The article benefited from contributions from our Lead Political Advisor, Prof Danilo Türk, our Director General, Prof Mark Zeitoun, our Lead Diplomatic and International Relationship Specialist, Noura Kayal and former Senior Scientific Officer, Dr Sumit Vij. Entitled "Why negotiate water problems when we can deliberate water solutions?", the article calls on international political leaders to de-securitise and re-politicise water to help enacting solutions that address the global water crisis and foster multilateralism at the same time.


Missing the “Peace” piece of the Water Puzzle - Global Observatory for Water and Peace Brief for the UN 2023 Water Conference

This Global Observatory for Water and Peace (GOWP) brief sets out the merits of a fundamental rethinking of the approach of the global community to water as a vehicle of peace. It entails recognizing the interconnection between water and peace as an over-arching framework for achieving the goals of the UN 2023 Water Conference and the Agenda 2030, and to ensure social stability and the preservation of peace as a matter of well-being and prosperity.


A Study of National Legal Frameworks Related to the Protection of Water During Armed Conflicts - A Follow-Up Study to the Geneva List of Principles on the Protection of Water Infrastructure

The report assesses the extent to which existing national legal frameworks adhere to international law regarding the protection of water infrastructure and water-related infrastructure during and after armed conflicts. It incorporates the growing body of knowledge on the protection of water resources under the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and as part of the environment. The objective is to provide guidance to parties to armed conflicts and a wide range of stakeholders who play different roles in promoting compliance with the relevant norms, including military experts, humanitarian organizations, and advocacy groups.


Publication - The Legal Protection of Freshwater Resources and Related Installations during Warfare

Armed conflicts have an impact on freshwater resources and often damage water installations, which could be targeted or incidentally damaged, affecting water quality and quantity and limiting access for the civilian population. Thus, in situations of armed conflict, protecting freshwater resources and related installations becomes essential. International humanitarian law (IHL) and international environmental law (IEL) provide for relevant rules that limit the impact of armed conflicts on freshwater and water infrastructure.


Publication - The Rights of Nature and the Rights to Nature: Emerging Trends in International Law

The article is published in Spanish in the journal Naturaleza y Sociedad - Desafíos ambientales as "Derechos de la naturaleza y derechos a la naturaleza: tendencias emergentes en el derecho internacional".


Monthly Water Map n°6 - The Sixaola River Basin: A peripheral yet global hotspot for biodiversity and cultural heritage

The Sixaola river, serving as a border between the Republics of Costa Rica and Panama, is a cultural and biodiversity hotspot. However, despite its social and environmental richness, the basin is a peripheral and marginal region, a result of its remoteness from the capital cities and decades of limited public investment.


The Geneva List of Principles on the Protection of Water Infrastructure

The Geneva List of Principles on the Protection of Water Infrastructure is the result of a think-tank process started by the Geneva Water Hub’s Platform for International Water Law in 2016 during the reflection carried out by the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace. In June 2021, noting the emerging cyber security threats, evolution in military cyber capabilities, and the water sector’s vulnerability, the Geneva Water Hub developed a principle on “Cyber Operations” dealing with the protection of water infrastructure and water-related infrastructure as an Annex.


Reshaping the approach to water cooperation for peacebuilding - Interviews

Today an inclusive and transversal approach for peacebuilding, acknowledging water as a factor of tension but also as a factor of peace, is becoming increasingly relevant. This innovative outlook is highlighted by the guest speaker from the MFA of the Kingdom of Netherlands, the World Bank, ICRC, the Peace Nexus Foundation, IPAR (a Senegalese Think Tank) and a Youth Parliamentarian for Water in the follwoing videos.


Monthly Water Map n°5 - The water-related funding strategies in the Liptako-Gourma region

The prioritization of water in the international agenda of response to the security crisis in Sahel is a major challenge. It affects the fields of peace, development, humanitarian aid and security. The access to water constitutes an essential need for affected communities, but also an essential aspect of the recovery of rural economies.


Left, right and centre - Policy note - Power-sensitive multilateralism for water, peace and security

Following is the first piece of our water research insight series, “Left, right and centre”. The new series will bring together a wide range of ontological and epistemological perspectives that explain the politics and governance in transboundary waters. The writing series is part of the “Research and Education” function of the Geneva Water Hub, University of Geneva.


The water-related funding strategies in the Liptako-Gourma region: The challenges of cooperation between humanitarian aid, development and peace

The prioritization of water in the international agenda of response to the security crisis in Sahel is a major challenge for organizations and experts in the fields of peace, development, humanitarian aid and security. This study on the water-related budget-commitments aims at providing an overview of the financial commitments in the field of water and its productive uses.


First Annual Report of the Global Observatory for Water and Peace (GOWP)

The following document presents the perspectives of the actors brought together through the Global Observatory for Water and Peace (GOWP). As the introduction to this collection details, the GOWP initiates and facilitates dialogue, marshals supporting research and creates momentum towards the use of water as a catalyst for peace. Through this report, the Observatory is also a global stage upon which different actors can demonstrate how they do exactly that.


Report - Round table of local actors on water as a vector for peace in the Sahel

The Liptako-Gourma region, shared by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, is an epicentre of the security crisis affecting the Sahel. Local populations are particularly affected by the armed violence of the belligerents and by the sharp increase in humanitarian needs. Access to water, as a vital resource for basic needs, and as a key to accessing natural resources that can be exploited by the populations, is a major challenge for diplomacy in favour of peace and social cohesion between communities. Such an approach requires the inclusion of local actors in the definition of the problems and responses to the crisis, through sustainable solutions for which they are in a position to play a major role.


Tools for transboundary management of water and water uses in the greater Geneva

Being preoccupied with a natural resource which doesn’t stop at borders and which is often based on upstream/downstream relationships, it may appear logical to observe various instruments involved in a cross-border context. However, practice shows that in order to obtain a complete battery of operational tools, it takes time, great perseverance, some creativity and ingenuity.


"Exploring discursive hydropolitics: a conceptual framework and research agenda"

Much has been written on hydropolitics, or on the interplays between transboundary water resource issues and politics. This article builds on recent calls for more research on the role of discourses in shaping hydropolitics. It proposes a conceptual framework, inspired by critical discourse analysis, for the systematic investigation of how discursive practices construct and enact actors’ power positions in transboundary basin governance.


Monthly Water Map n°4 - Large Dams of the World

Hydropower is a low-carbon source of energy that, in combination with other intermittent renewable energy technologies, plays an important role in mitigating climate change. In addition to electricity production, large dams (minimum height of 15 m.) are increasingly multipurpose infrastructures that provide public goods (flood mitigation or increased water storage) and contribute to development objectives (such as improving food production or supplying water in rural areas). Here are a few visuals that will give you more information.


The Drama of Water in a Time of Global Transformation

The Geneva Water Hub and International Association of Lake Regions, prepared the present publication: “The Drama of Water in a Time of Global Transformation”- a trilateral dialogue between Russian experts, the International Association of Lake Regions and the Geneva Water Hub and partner experts, which we hope will be used as a reference document by actors in hydropolitics, and water diplomacy.


DAMS: water flows regulation in a fragmented world

The Geneva Water Hub and IUCN’s Environmental Law Centre launch the initiative “Dams: water flows regulation in a fragmented world”. This assessment includes a compendium of references grouping and analyzing the main frameworks and principles to be considered when addressing the challenges of dams in general and large dams in particular.


Second edition of the book Fresh Water in International Law by Laurence Boisson de Chazournes

The Platform for International Water Law is pleased to announce the publication of the second edition of the book Fresh Water in International Law authored by our Director Laurence Boisson de Chazournes. This new edition includes an assessment of the relationship between the UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 6, with the right to water and sanitation.


Bibliography - “What is hydropolitics? Examining the meaning of an evolving field”

The study of hydropolitics is relatively young and ‘borrows’ concepts from other well-established disciplines such as political science, geography, or sociology. The roots of this nascent but blossoming research arena date back only to the late 1970s. As with any new field of study, there is much conceptual fuzziness surrounding hydropolitics. For instance, to this day, no single, universal definition of hydropolitics exists and is unlikely to be established any time soon.


The Comparative Study on Empowering Women in Water Diplomacy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region

The role of women in water diplomacy related decision-making has been underestimated, despite the acknowledged essential role of women in peacebuilding, conflict management and sustaining security, as reaffirmed by the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (adopted on 31 October 2000) and by the eight resolutions on the issue adopted thereafter.


MEDRC Transboundary Waters – Practioners Briefing Series – Issue 8 – Gender and Transboundary Water

In this edition of MEDRC's "Transboundary Waters", Natasha Carmi, our Lead water specialist, is invited to apply a gender lens to the challenges of water security and transboundary cooperation, and discuss methods for achieving the SDG of Gender Equality in the water sector


Witnessing the Environmental Impacts of War - Environmental case studies from conflict zones around the world

With case studies from Iraq, Syria, Colombia, Yemen, Ukraine, Laos DPR and Senegal, this jointly produced report provides a snapshot of environments impacted by active conflict, post conflict governance gaps, and humanitarian efforts to restore usable lands. The stories tell a tale of the often complex relationship between armed conflict and its environment footprint that lingers long after the guns fell silent.


"Water for peace: preventing conflict related to water and wetlands"

As part of the 2020 World Bank Fragility Forum, and In collaboration with The Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnerhsip and Wetlands International, we contributed to a World Bank Blog article entitled “Water for peace: preventing conflict related to water and wetlands”. This piece is part of the 2020 Fragility Forum along partners’ podcasts.


Review of European, Community and International Environmental Law Special Issue

Volume 29, Issue 1.
Special Issue:Water Protection and Armed Conflicts in International Law.

The issue of water security and protection in relation to armed conflicts has been examined from various perspectives and approaches, including by academics in law, political science, peace and conflict studies as well as by decision makers and practitioners from States, international organizations and civil society.


Universities’ partnership: the role of academic institutions in water cooperation and diplomacy

Academic and research institutions play a key role in understanding water cooperation and tackling water diplomacy needs. The Geneva Watrer Hub is proud to be leading with its core partners the launch and expansion of the University Partnership for Water Cooperation and Diplomacy (UPWCD). The following article discusses the role that academic and scientific institutions play in water diplomacy and cooperation, and reflects on the contribution that partners of the UPWCD can jointly make to further the cause of water cooperation and diplomacy.


Governance of a Transboundary River - The Rhône

The Geneva Water Hub, in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair in Hydropolitics (University of Geneva) is proud to present this latest edition published under the “Palgrave Studies in Water Governance: Policy and Practice” series.

This edition exposes major lessons that might be applied to transboundary water governance, offers a comparative study of different governance models and shows how governance of the Rhone river evolved in practice.


Research Handbook on Freshwater Law and International Relations

A research collaboration between the Geneva Water Hub and the Platform for International Water Law (Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva) highlights the intersections between freshwater law and international relations.


The UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses - A Commentary

A research collaboration between the Geneva Water Hub and the Platform for International Water Law (Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva) examines the preparatory work leading to the Convention as well as the practice that has developed since its adoption in 1997.


Publication of the book "Maintien de la paix et de la sécurité internationales et la gestion des ressources en eau"

The book "Maintien de la paix et de la sécurité internationales et la gestion des ressources en eau" edited by Noura Kridis, is the result of a Workshop organised by the Faculty of legal, political and social sciences of Tunis, in collaboration with the Platform for International Water Law of the Faculty of Law and the Geneva Water Hub. The event was held in February 2016.


"A Matter of Survival"

The Geneva Water Hub, as Secretariat of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace, is proud to present “A Matter of Survival”, the final recommendation Report of the Panel. The Report was officially launched and presented to the public in Geneva on 14 September 2017. The recommendations were also presented in New York City on 18 September 2017, during a Working Ministerial Dinner entitled "Water cooperation as a tool for conflict prevention". Speakers included H.E.


Palgrave Studies in Water Governance

The Geneva Water Hub is proudly coordinating and co-branding with Palgrave-Macmillan publisher the new series “Palgrave Studies in Water Governance”. Looking at the issues of water governance through the perspective of the social sciences, books in the Palgrave Series in Water Governance take a global perspective on one of the key challenges facing society today: the sustainable development of water resources and services for all.


"Network Governance and Conflict Resolution Between Domains, Sectors and Levels in Vietnam’s Urban Water Management"

Dr Fischer explains, for example, how the water sanitation situation has generally improved in Vietnam over the last decades, however, waste water treatment plants are constructed but do not work properly and faecal sludge management (FSM) is newly regulated, but poorly and not yet implemented.


"Negotiation, Tinkering and Bricolage: Analysing Strategies in Everyday Agricultural Water Politics"

Dr Kemerink-Seyoum attempts to identify and shed light on spaces of negation, tinkering and bricolage in everyday agricultural water use. Such spaces offer an interesting opportunity to contribute to theories on human agency and in particular how objects, such as the water itself, water infrastructure or water legislation, co-shape human-technology-nature relations. Furthermore, a better recognition and explicit nurturing of such spaces can support alternative ways for reconciling conflicts over water.


Policy Brief n°6 - Everyday Politics of Water: From Water Reform Policies to Water Resource Configurations in Rural Africa.

Often to the disappointment of policy makers, water flows in agriculture seldom follow policy directives. Especially given the notoriously capricious nature of water, relatively little is known what happens between government's policies on paper and everyday water management practices within rural waterscapes. This paper zooms in on this ‘grey’ area, in a concerted attempt to identify and shed light on spaces of negation, tinkering and bricolage and how this affect the implementation of agricultural water policies.


Bibliography - “Participatory Water Governance in Africa: Community Management of Rural Water Supply”

This bibliography presents short summaries of some of the key publications (~1990-2016) on Participatory Water Governance in Africa. The primary focus is on community management of rural water supply for domestic use, but some sources that focus on urban water supply, irrigation, and integrated water resource management (IWRM) have been included where they contribute important insights.  Sources are broadly grouped thematically and by date.


Policy Brief n°4 - Transboundary Governance of the Senegal and Niger Rivers: Historic Analysis and Determining Factors Identification

The Senegal River Basin Development Organization (OMVS) and the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) are recognized as examples of international watercourse governance best practices. Thanks to a set of skills that goes beyond the restrictive framework of flows management, they constitute genuine agencies for economical and social development. Despite their proximity, these organisations differ as their respective path to success undergone highly contingent features. Therefore we propose to compare the evolution of governance with respect to the Senegal and Niger watercourses in order to highlight common factors that led to coordination success as well as specificities of each case. We thereby ensure the tranposability of each model.


Monthly Water Map n°3 - Governance at the Basin Level: Senegal and Niger Rivers

The Organisation pour la mise en valeur du fleuve Sénégal (OMVS) and the Autorité du bassin du Niger (ABN) are recognised for their good practices in transboundary cooperation. Both institutions are characterized by robust cooperative frameworks on political and financial dimensions, information exchange, coordination mechanisms and public participation. As highlighted by the following visuals, the proper functioning of these institutions is tributary to multiple factors, but the level of uniformity between the parties seems to be a key facilitator of effective coordination. The illustrations bring a visual insight of the differences between the Senegal and the Niger River Basins’ components and contexts.


Policy Brief n°5 - The Status of Common Facilities and Benefit Sharing in the Senegal and Niger River Basins

The Senegal River Development Organisation (Organisation pour la mise en valeur du fleuve Sénégal (OMVS) in French) and the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) have put into place specific regimes on the management and rational use of water resources. In order to concretize the concept of community of interests and right, both basin institutions have developed specific arrangements on the management of facilities and benefit sharing, taking into account the particularities of the two basins.


Monthly Water Map n°2 - Hydropower Along the Nile

The following visuals highlight and help to better understand the hydropower expansion along the Nile River. The main factors explaining such development in the sector are: 1) Riparian countries lack access to grid electricity although demand is increasing with rising economies and population;


Policy Brief n°3 - The Reconfiguration of Water Policies in Central Asia: A Reflexion on the IWRM Implementation in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

In the framework of Political Geography of Water, this contribution examines the logics of water policies implementation in Central Asia. Reflecting on the interactions between water policies, political power, and hydraulic territories, it analyzes the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) implementation - the global water paradigm promoted by the development organizations since the mid-1990s - its logics and rationales, in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan at the basin / local level (Middle Zeravshan Valley, Uzbekistan / Arys Valley, Kazakhstan).


Bibliography - Water Conflict and Cooperation

Since the beginning of the 1990s, there is a growing number of publication related to water as causal factors for armed conflicts in water scarce regions. After several publications criticizing this “water wars” literature, articles have focused on different intensity of water conflicts and on water cooperation with a very large number of articles published in the last few years. Academics and research centers, such as the Pacific Institute, use and develop these concepts but also international organizations and NGOs that try to implement water cooperation mechanisms in such conflicts.


Policy Brief n°2 - Entry into force of the Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (1997)

The entry into force of the Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (United Nations 1997 Convention) on 17 August 2014 constitutes a major milestone for water international law development.


Policy Brief n°1

Multilevel governance
International Geneva as a hub for water governance

Policy Brief n°1 - Multilevel governance: International Geneva as a Hub for Water Governance

Geneva is one of the world’s major hubs for world governance and multilateral diplomacy. With its high concentration of international organisations, non-governmental organisation and permanent missions, Geneva plays a leading role in the active governance of the world’s most pressing issues and challenges. This is represented across all sectors and water governance is no exception. Many of the principal actors who are engaged on water governance policy and cooperation, those both locally and globally focused, are situated in the Geneva area.


Bibliography - Water Security

Water security could be broadly defined as a water system that provides enough water, in terms of quantity and quality, to human or non-human users. Water security is ensured if users are safe from water access and water-related risks. This notion appears central in water governance narratives and is often linked to notions such as the water nexus and integrated water resource management (IWRM). The idea of water security initially came from practitioners, and later on academics took interest on it. The notion was already used to a great extent in 1990’s, but since 2004-2005 water security became a key notion to water governance and related publications rose sharply.


Monthly Water Map n°1 - Geneva Water Actors

The database leading to the following visuals aims at characterizing the main actors of the “Geneva international” in the water sector. As of early October 2014, the database counts 52 actors, characterized by 88 numeric and alpha-numeric variables. The three main data sources are Internet search, semi-directed interviews and various exchanges with certain actors. This collection is not exhaustive, and is still growing, but our analysis already leads to convincing results which can be interpreted as guidelines to focus the Geneva Water Hub’s activities.




Bibliography - Hydro-hegemony

This selection is about the concept of hydro-hegemony developed in 2006 by Mark Zeitoun and Jeroen Warner. It is defined by basin scale hegemony or control over transboundary waters, consolidated by one actor. The London Water Research Group has developed and put into practice this concept. This group gathers water professionals and scholars to facilitate the analysis of transboundary water management, policy and politics. We present here the main publications on hydro-hegemony from this group.