Many quasi-states, especially in Africa, have failed to pass even the most lenient test for internal sovereignty in terms of the capacity to be self-governing. In this regard, service delivery of both water and sanitation is highly relevant. (Apartheid South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho and possibly Zimbabwe).
Concerns about the western notion of “standard of civilization” are on the increase, this time under the international banner of human rights. (Himba rights in Namibia being affected by the Epupa Falls Dam).
The centre-periphery structure of the post-Cold War political economy tends to give the centre both the power and international legitimacy to reimpose a degree of unequal political relations on the periphery. For example, the UN as an embodiment of the principle of sovereign equality, has imposed (or is likely to impose) sanctions via the Security Council on states such as Somalia, Angola, Burundi, Libya, Liberia and Mozambique, thereby degrading their status as sovereign equals. (Donor country pressure on a recipient state).
The Cold War’s attempt to “freeze the political map in a way which has never been previously attempted … seems unlikely to succeed” (Mayall, 1990:56). Buzan (1994) offers examples such as the secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia and the attempt to split Somalia. (Possible border changes which may involve river basins in future).”
“National Sovereignty and International Watercourses.” Greencross International. 2000 – “One problem with the absolute predominance of state sovereignty in international relations is that throughout the world large groups of people are not adequately represented in the ‘state’ system, and when considering a need as fundamental as water it is imperative that groups of people should not be bypassed or marginalised. Unfortunately, this is an all too common reality. Although there may be increasing cooperation between governments regarding shared water, frequently these agreements overlook the essential needs of portions of society, including future generations. A balance must be reached in every basin between economic progress, public wellbeing and environmental integrity – only in this way can sustainable development become a reality. Claims to sustainable development are merely fictitious if proper account is not taken of the growth rate of the population and the needs of the future inhabitants of the region. The human rights approach to water sharing may be seen as a more modernistic way of interpreting the elements of Article 6 of the UN Convention to reflect social as well as biological needs.
National sovereignty can only be adequately expressed through a government which is both representative and responsible. At various times many states have lacked any, or any responsible/ recognised government, but this should in no way jeopardise the peoples’ sovereignty over their water. The people of Afghanistan have suffered both occupation and unrecognised government in recent years, but no one could question the fact that they have retained their rights and entitlements to water. States which have suffered from decades of civil war and internal turmoil, the so called ‘imploding’ or ‘collapsed’ states, also lack the governmental infrastructure, both during and following the conflict period, to manage their waters. This can have consequences for international watercourses particularly when, as in the case of Angola and the Okavango River, the tumultuous state is the upstream riparian.”