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Institute of Advanced Study

Dr Shlomi Dinar

IAS Fellow & Pemberton Fellow at University College, Durham University (January - March 2010)

Shlomi Dinar is a faculty member in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University. He undertook his doctoral studies at the Johns Hopkins University-School of Advanced International Studies and his master's studies at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He conducted his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Davis.

Dinar has published on the linkages between international politics and freshwater (otherwise known as hydro-politics). His first monograph, International Water Treaties: Negotiation and Cooperation along Transboundary Rivers (Routledge 2008), explores how property-rights disputes over shared rivers (on issues such as water allocation, pollution, hydropower, and flood-control) are resolved in practice through side-payments and other cost-sharing schemes. In this book, Dinar finds that despite the general framework international water law provides states for resolving their disputes, financial concomitants are clearly and specifically stipulated in treaties as solutions to transboundary river conflicts. A second book, Bridges Over Water: Understanding Conflict, Negotiation, and Cooperation (World Scientific 2007) brings together several co-authors from disciplines and fields such as international relations, economics, international law, modelling and engineering. The book's aim is two fold. First, to investigate the topic of conflict and cooperation over freshwater through the multi-disciplinary lens it so naturally requires. Second, to provide a guiding textbook given the increasing number of university courses on conflict and cooperation over freshwater.

Dinar is currently working towards a book, which investigates current hydro-political relations between riparians in major river basins throughout the world. Some of these river basins have witnessed successful regimes for resolving a particular water dispute while others still lack such institutions. The study considers the similarities across these case studies and examines how conflict transpires and cooperation evolves. The book is a product of a Smith Richardson Foundation Junior Faculty Research Grant, which Dinar was awarded in the academic year 2006-2007.

Dinar is also interested in investigating how, and under what conditions, resource scarcity and environmental degradation form the impetus for inter-state cooperation. (In comparison, scarcity and degradation have often been associated with violent conflict and ‘resource wars'.) In a recent publication (in the journal Global Environmental Politics) Dinar proposes that cooperation over freshwater may be discouraged at certain levels of water scarcity and facilitated at other levels. A recently completed book manuscript, edited by Dinar, investigates this scarcity contention across issues like climate change, ozone protection, biodiversity conservation, transboundary air pollution, fisheries, minerals, oil, and oceans pollution.

Dinar is currently pursuing two empirical studies. The first considers the scarcity-cooperation contention described above, investigating the emergence (or lack there of) of international water treaties. The second project investigates international water treaty resiliency to increased water variability. While at IAS, Dinar will work with fellow geographers and law faculty to investigate various spatial, political, and legal questions related to international water treaties and shared rivers.

Dr Dinar's Fellowship has been sponsored by The Sir James Knott Trust.

Fellow's Home Page

IAS Insights Paper


As water variability in international river basins is expected to increase, due to the predicted effects of climate change, inter-state agreements to settle consequent disputes become paramount. Specifically, the mechanisms that states negotiate as part of these agreements are important. We argue that our best attempts to consider the ability of states to deal with variability in the future, rests with considering how the agreements have fared in the past.  In this paper we investigate whether particular mechanisms help mitigate inter-country tensions over shared water. We utilize a corpus of documented international water treaties pertaining to water quantity or allocation, hydropower and flood-control (those issues most affected by water variability), and the Basins at Risk events database to test particular hypotheses regarding the viability, or resiliency, of treaties to water variability. In general, we argue that particular treaty features and mechanisms are more apt to deal with decreased or increased river flow - in our particular case measured as a derived coefficient of variation pertaining to precipitation and river run-off. In essence, the presence of these instruments in a given treaty should decrease the likelihood of riparian complaints, or grievances, regarding the issue at hand. Treaties are coded for the particular mechanisms sought, and the events database is combed for related grievances and events. Our theory considers other control variables, but in this draft paper we investigate one in particular - trade. Generally, our statistical analysis finds that treaty mechanisms that are flexible and binding, with respect to flow variability, correspond with a decrease in the frequency and intensity of country complaints. Particular institutional mechanisms (e.g. enforcement, conflict resolution/dispute resolution and drought adaptation) also matter in further reducing country grievances due to flow variability and consequent treaty compliance problems.

Insights Paper