This article takes the perspective that when political relationships are strained, there seem to be few examples of wise international water resources governance. The Middle East is a striking example. Much effort has been put into policy development and the design of international principles, but very little into the translation of those into concrete and lasting governance. One of the theses of the article is that politics - whether domestic or international- in most cases overrides these principles and standards. Moreover ready-made regional co-operation models of water managements are not directly applicable to every geographical, political, economic and social setting. Certain factors are often under-estimated in international water negotiations, such as:

  • • the complexity of any hydro-political negotiations, and need to develop commonly accepted standards;

  • • the difficulty of translating policy - either politically or legally - into an operational and realistic negotiations strategy;

  • • the format of the procedures and meetings;

  • • recognition that third parties should have a long-term perspective on any conflict they get involved in.

With reservations, the lessons learned indicate that the following factors have an impact on grid locked situations, such as: new substantive information; new trade-offs between the parties; and changed political climate or relationship with external power-brokers.

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