Norms and transboundary co-operation in Africa : the cases of the Orange-Senqu and Nile rivers
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The inter-scalar interaction of norms is pervasive in African hydropolitics due to the nature of freshwater on the continent – shared, strategic and that which necessitates cooperation. However, with few exceptions, particular norms created at specific levels of scale have been researched in isolation of those existing at other levels. It is argued that this exclusionary approach endangers the harmonised and integrated development of international water law and governance, producing sub-optimal cooperative strategies. The notable contributions of Ken Conca and the Maryland School’s research on the contestation of norms occurring at different levels of scale, and Anthony Turton’s Hydropolitical Complex (HPC), will be examined through a Constructivist theoretical lens, in terms of their applicability to furthering an understanding of multi-level normative frameworks. Through the use of the Orange-Senqu River basin, and the Nile Equatorial Lakes sub-basin (NELSB) as case studies, it is argued that norm convergence is possible, and is occurring in both case studies analysed, although to varying degrees as a result of different causal factors and different biophysical, historical, socio-political and cultural contexts. This is demonstrated through an examination of regional dynamics and domestic political milieus. Notwithstanding their varying degrees of water demand, Orange-Senqu and NELSB riparians present fairly different political identities, each containing existing constellations of norms, which have affected the ways in which they have responded to the influence of external norms, how the norm is translated at the local level and to what extent it is incorporated into state policy. In so doing, the interface between international norms and regional/domestic norms will be explored in an attempt to understand which norms gain acceptance and why. It is therefore advocated that a multi-level interpretation of norm development in Africa’s hydropolitics is essential to an understanding of the interconnectedness of context, interests and identities. Each level of scale, from the international to the subnational, give meaning to how norms are translated and socialised, and how they in turn, transform contexts.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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