Water is the base of all human existence. First of all for drinking, food production and hygiene, but also for all other developments of contemporaries’ human society. The United Nations has estimated world population would grow from 6 to 9,3 billion between 50 years and beside this “people are getting wealthier”. Thus can be no doubt of a rising global demand for freshwater, but climate change and other environmental factors will lead to short run of water in certain regions. In consequence water can be predicted to become a security issue and a reason for conflict, as it even may be today in some regions.
Only 2,5% of all water on the earth is freshwater. 70% of this freshwater is frozen at North and South Pole, 29% are bonded not accessible for mankind as “soil moisture” and in “underground aquifers”. About 1% (0,007% of all water) is useable for mankind, but “water is renewable resource”. This numbers underline the importance of the question, if it is possible supplying all humans with enough water or if water may lead to conflict.
Chapter 2 will discuss the questions of waters potential as a reason for dispute, conflict or peaceful development. Dispute is to understand as a political issue while conflict could further mean use of other elements than political including force. Connected to this Chapter 3 will analyse how water disputes and fertility, mortality and migration relate to each other. This is important because developments of the last three factors are highly dependent on fresh water accessibility. As examples for today’s water disputes two case studies on Israel/Jordan/Syria/Lebanon and Turkey/Syria/Iraq will be made.
Even if such an answer is difficult to make, chapter 5 will try to answer the main question if water will become a major security problem in the 21st century and if water disputes will lead to conflicts. In context of population growth and climate change this will be an important topic for 21st centuries politics.
The terms `conflict´ or `major conflict´ do necessarily contain war or violence. Water disputes could possibly lead to violent conflict, but when the term `conflict´ is used here it means conflict in general and not specifically war or violence.
2. Potentials of water for conflict and peace
Water disputes can lead to (violent) conflict, but they often do not. It has been shown that those conflicts often had cooperation as a result. But this contemporary situation could change in the future. In these conflicts water must not necessarily be the main issue of conflict. Water policy and water scarcity could cause lots of circumstances, which lead to conflicts. So water may not be the reason of conflict, but the reason of the reason. Dimensions of these conflicts could be environmental, pollution, fishing, sea or river traffic, access to freshwater, energy production and industrial or agricultural issues.
2.1. Conflict potential
As many dimensions as water related conflict can have like seen above, as wide are its potentials for different natures and levels of conflict. A problem for the analysis is, that most of the research is done by scholars of the more developed countries, which may follow a national agenda or only recommend practices they know as solutions for problems, instead of looking for new ways.
As the two case studies later will point out transboundary waters, primarily rivers as floating waters, have a higher conflict potential. Unlike oceans or inland lakes (for example the Caspian Sea) rivers in general can be used in every of the dimensions named above. A river that crosses several borders makes pollution, fishing, traffic, fresh water access and the other issues to transnational aspects. Those aspects will become more reasonable for conflicts because the number of people living at those rivers will grow. The current trend of urbanization will go on and if the prediction is right that in 2025 “two thirds of the world’s people will live in areas that are subjected to moderate high water stress” the role of water as a conflict reason will rise significantly.
Furthermore conflicts could develop from the growing differences between the developing and the less developed world. One the hand people in the developed countries are using and wasting a lot of water and on the other hand people in the less developed countries are dying of thirst. This development could cause conflicts about water allocation and migration movements, because from people from the less developed countries want to enjoy the same conditions as in the developed word. These problems could be raised by the environmental degradations caused by the global climate change.
 Juha I. Uitto and Alfred M. Duda, “Management of transboundary water resources: lessons from international cooperation for conflict prevention,” The Geographical Journal 168, no. 4 (2002): 366.
 Hilal Elver, Peaceful uses of international rivers: the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers dispute (Ardsley, NY: Transnational Publishers, 2002), 53.
 Ibid.: 53-54.
 Sean C. Maybee, “National Security and Global Climate Change,” Joint Force Quarterly, issue 49 (2008): 99.
 Shlomi Dinar, “Scarcity and Cooperation Along International Rivers,” Global Environmental Politics 9, no. 1 (2009): 111-113.
 Joyeeta Gupta and Pieter van der Zaag, “The Politics of Water Science: On Unresolved Water Problems and Biased Research Agendas,” Global Environmental Politics 9, no. 2 (2009): 22.
 Mark Zeitoun and Naho Mirumachi, “Transboundary water interaction I: reconsidering conflict and cooperation, ” International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 8, (2008): 299.
 Juha I. Uitto and Alfred M. Duda, “Management of transboundary water resources: lessons from international cooperation for conflict prevention,” The Geographical Journal 168, no. 4 (2002): 367.
 Hilal Elver, Peaceful uses of international rivers: the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers dispute (Ardsley, NY: Transnational Publishers, 2002), 94-97.