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Research Article

Water Diplomacy as a New Issue in Diplomacy-Conflict Transformation and Its Communication Perspective

Joevi Roedyati*

Corresponding Author: Joevi Roedyati, Affiliated to Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Institute of Communication and Business LSPR-Indonesia and Murdoch University- Australia and Airlangga University- Indonesia.

Received: November 12, 2023 ;    Revised: November 28, 2023 ;    Accepted: December 01, 2023 ;   Available Online: January 04, 2024



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Most countries still lack cooperation agreements on shared water resources, a potential source of conflict.

Rivers, long or short, big lakes or small lakes, and water resources are shared by 153 countries around the world. To manage the waters that transboundary across countries or regions, we need to be equitable, fair and sustain its existences., particularly due to the change of global climate all year long, requires countries to manage the source of water in place and its arrangement to distribute this water fairly, which sometimes been done across countries’ borders and sovereignty.

In this article, writer tried to explain 3 different cases of water diplomacy, i.e. in the Netherland, Ethiopia and Iran, even-though only at a glance, just to make differentiation of the approaches made by each government to this issue. Methodologically thinking, we should have a further discussion about each issue of water and writer believed that each country is different with the other country, in scale, approach, stake-holders and other parties’ involvement.

Keywords: Aquifers, Trans boundary climate change arrangement


SDG’s number 6 and its target

According to Target number 6 of Sustainable Development Goals 2030, access to safe water is vital to human wealth.

If government made a poor distribution on the water arrangement, also bad management of it, especially over-using and not a really wise using since a long and poor management of water distribution in many countries as well as mis-management and the overwhelmed misuse, and also not so so-wise uses of the management of water above the land’s surfaces and the toxification of fresh water have harmed supplies of good water. Urgent action felt increasingly important to guarantee water distribution for all human needs.

Issues of research questions in Water Diplomacy

  1. First The first issue of the increasing scarcity of water is because of the increase of in consumption, because the increasing number of populations
  2. Problem The problem in the management of the distribution of water
  3. Too many industries which need water in their process of productions, need a new source of aquifers
  4. Multilateralism for water arrangement to avoid conflict and to settle water ownership conflict.

To answer the above issues, the writer tried to look for at 3 countries’ water strategies and management, which also include multilateral organizations, NGO’s and private sectors in their policies. While also increasing coordination between academic institutions in their countries or abroad.

Water diplomacy in Netherland, Ethiopia and Iran (case studies/ examples)

Water conflicts happened in many countries, for example between Israel and Palestine, between India and Pakistan, between Turkey, Syria and Iraq, also Between USA and Mexico, and also conflicts in other part of the world [1].

Netherland wanted to became a mediator in international trans-boundary water conflicts because it already has expertise in solving its water problem, since the country position is under the sea-level. Netherlands good in building dams.

y advisors indicate a more complex answer regarding transboundary water conflict mediation.

Netherland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs already has some experiences working with the World Bank, as a facilitator and a mediator for them [1].

Some recommendations to settle water scarcity by world bank:

  1. Information systems are needed for resource monitoring
  2. Decision making under uncertainty
  3. Hydro-meteorological forecast and warning
  4. Investing on innovation technology to find water resources and managing it
  5. Conserving and protecting resources
  6. Recycling storm water and wastewater
  7. Recovering water resources
  8. Disseminating a realistic data to the surrounding societies, so they can act properly [2]

8th Water, Hydro Diplomacy and Communication Forum in Addis Ababa- Ethiopia

In Addis-Ababa was held a consultation during the 8th Water, Hydro-diplomacy and Communication under the theme of “Strong Diplomacy and Communication for Sustainable Water Resource Development”. This consultation to approach the problem of water. The forum is organized by Addis Ababa Science and Technology University together with the Ministry of Water and Energy Ethiopia (MoWE).

MoWE Minister noted that the researchs’ conducted and discussed in the forum could increase platforms of Ethiopian diplomacies efforts in conducting to solve the water problem for this country.

Iranian Respond Response on Water Scarcity

RCUWM (Regional Centre on Urban Water Management (RCUWM-Tehran) contributes to water-related projects of UNESCO’s strategic program by capacity building, knowledge sharing, and research at international and regional levels [3].

The main objective of the UNESCO Chair on Water Reuse is to enhance the place of the Islamic Republic of Iran in global water communities through by providing appropriate solutions to research, cultural and educational in the uses of water and cooperation of scientific centers across the globe that involve some countries such as Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Syria and the likes [3].


3 countries (the Netherlands, Ethiopia, and Iran) have its their own ways to settle down their water crisis. But the 3 countries have engaged with multilateral organizations and academicians to seek for a sustainable and abundant supply of healthy water for their people. Despite the changing in the global climate tendencies, they are looking for the most suitable and cheapest means to supply their people with these this water for their needs.


Governments need to be prepared to work with state and non-state actors, including local and international non-governmental organizations, religious organizations, and the business community, all of whom may be more effective than governments or international organizations in rebuilding a country’s infrastructure, in cultivating civil society, and fostering economic and political reconstruction [4].

For example, human rights organizations have been especially helpful in countries lacking a tradition of democracy, such as Cambodia and Bosnia; a Catholic NGO was the mediator in Mozambique after the failure of previous attempts, and the local business community has facilitated negotiations for the creation of a central government in Somalia after ten years of chaos [4-6].

Water diplomacy is a new diplomatic dimension that opens new possibilities of how to implement innovative forms of horizontal cooperation on the national level, regional level, and global levels.

5 Pathway for Conflict transformation according to AMA [7].

Step 1: Define the source of the conflict: The more information you have about the cause of the problem, the more easily you can help to resolve it.

Step 2: Look beyond the incident: Often, it is not the situation but the point of view of the situation that causes anger to fester and ultimately leads to a shouting match or other interpersonal conflict.

Step 3: Request solutions: After getting each party's viewpoint, the next step is to get them to identify how the situation could be changed. Again, question the conflicting parties to solicit their ideas: When managing conflict as a mediator, you have to be an active listener, aware of every verbal nuance, as well as a good reader of body language. Cooperating that means steering the discussion away from finger pointing and toward ways of resolving the conflict.

Step 4: Identify solutions both disputants can support: You are listening for the most acceptable course of action. Point out the merits of various ideas, not only from each other’s perspective, but in terms of the benefits to the organization.

Step 5: Agreement: The mediator needs to get the two parties to shake hands and accept one of the alternatives identified in the discussion tables.

Seen from these 5 steps, writer think that a possible negotiation standard procedure which can be implied to seek a solution for the water problems around the world.


Government and non-state actors may be an effective partner to rebuild a country’s infrastructure, to cultivate civil society, and to foster economic and political reconstruction. Public diplomacy, nowadays, became an efficient tool for promotion. Promoting any country’s branding for its development sectors, policies, and interests. What some experts said as a revolution of information-provides non-traditional actors in the global political arena to receive a new reach and powers to influence the people.

There is a risk to rely much on Multilateralism and non-state actors. Since in international law, the State remains the main actor in the international scene and therefore the only one accountable for an action. Accountability could be overlapped with credibility. The transformation of diplomatic practices could challenge our comprehension of interactions on the international scene.

It is very important to make an exact definition about of Water diplomacy. One of the steps to understanding the notion is with to make an approach analysis of the context of water diplomacy and related water diplomacy actions. There are five key aspects for water diplomacy (Political; Preventive; Integrative; Cooperative; Technical) and proposing a general definition for water diplomacy, is very important to start the effort of trying to settle water scarcity, finding healthy water and preserving preserve a sustainable water resource.

Seeing from Communication theories, water diplomacy, has to include its stake-holders, to involve on its discussion. neighbors, multilateral forums, and users or consumers or its representatives, have to be accounted.

This writing has a limitation to discuss the conflict solution for water issue. Each case has its own special, and also different stakeholders, thus need a special approach and could not be generalized easily. Coming to negotiation table could be a first step, and then the discussion plus negotiations could be extend to other things, such as: site inspection, trainings among officers involved in the issue, and the likes.

The main findings of this article were just to show how the diplomacy about water issue became very popular nowadays, since it was also need science, knowledge and skills for dispute resolution.  The political implication of these negotiation, also including science, technology, trainings, and inspection, based on trust and awareness of the sensitivity of the issue for human wealth. Hopefully in the future writings, we could make a clear path for Water diplomacy’s Standard of Procedures (SOP’s), copy and paste for any parties in the world who involved to find a solution for this matter.

  1. Making Strange (2022) From ‘Ministers and Merchants’ to Neutral Brokers: Aspirations of Water Diplomacy of the Netherlands. Available online at:
  2. The World Bank (2022) Water Resources Management. Available online:
  3. UNESCO (2023) Events. Available online at:
  4. Baker, Pauline, Annex VR (2001) Redefining Diplomacy: New actors, tools and strategies. Available online at:
  5. United Nations (2023) Ensure Availability and Sustainable management of Water and Sanitation for All. Available online at:
  6. Modern Diplomacy (2023) Water Diplomacy - A Tool for Peace and Well Being. Available online at:
  7. American Management Association. Available online at:

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