The interconnectedness of food security, natural resources, peace and conflict is not new to anyone familiar with fragile and conflict-affected states. The question is how to reverse this negative spiral. It is instrumental to focus on the questions of how interventions are interacting with other factors, what negative side effects may appear and how to reduce or, even better, prevent them.
India failed to do even what a small country like Nicaragua did in the Paris Climate Conference by raising its flag questioning the autocratic change introduced in the final draft at the last moment (from ‘shall’ to ‘should’ ) while adopting the 12 page long Paris Agreement dated 12th December, 2015. The Agreement being a legal text required application of basic legal knowledge by India. In law schools across the globe students are taught that “shall” is “mandatory”. The drafters of legal documents are trained into the use of “shall” as it conveys “a duty to” be performed. It conveys obligation. Had “shall” been not important 76 pages of Words and Phrases, a multi volume work of legal definitions would not have been devoted to case laws around it. The word “should” does not express a legal obligation, the word “shall” expresses a legal requirement.
Whether the waters in South Asia can be characterized by ‘shared commonalities’ or whether transnational consensus must precede localized or unilateral policy interventions do not constitute the primary axis of the debate. The developmental discourse in this regard seems to have perpetuity, at least in terms of policy mindsets, which transcends boundaries and reduces the issue to usage of water for so-called ‘national’ purposes and considers the deleterious effects as being the sine qua non of development. Additionally, policy interventions in water are paradigmatically ‘statist’, ‘top-bottom’ and non-participatory having scant regard for complex issues such as loss of culture and livelihoods.
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