Power Parity and Transboundary Freshwater Agreements

Open Access
Soltes, Kristian
Area of Honors:
International Politics
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Douglas William Lemke, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael Barth Berkman, Honors Advisor
  • agreements
  • power parity
  • transboundary freshwater
The decreasing global supply of freshwater and the rapidly increasing demand associated with population growth and industrialization have catapulted the global freshwater crisis into the political spotlight. Research regarding transboundary freshwater scarcity and its relationship with conflict and cooperation is a relatively recent focus of political science yet has been studied from many angles. However, the nature of the agreements drafted between states sharing the scarce water is understudied, especially when viewed from the lens of power parity. I explore the effects of power parity on the fairness of the agreements drafted between nations. More specifically, since a relatively powerful nation can have considerable leverage during the agreement process, I expect that a large power differential leads to unfair agreements that favor the more powerful country. I look at two cases, the USA-Mexico border consisting of the Rio Grande and Colorado basins, and the Nile Basin. Intervening variables are also analyzed. My results indicate that agreements are generally fair regardless of the factors, but the tendency to pursue unilateral actions is affected. These results have far-reaching implications on international policy and administration, and they offer insights to help guide future research concerning this contemporary issue.