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Securitization in Africa’s River Basin Organizations: Implications for Transboundary Water Governance Open Access

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How do Africa’s regional institutions construct and respond to climate-related threats, and do these responses follow the prescriptions of traditional securitization theory? This thesis explores these questions with reference to Africa’s River Basin Organizations (RBOs). After summarizing the Copenhagen School’s concept of securitization and its associated critiques, this thesis expands the concept of securitization through a framework of three securitization pathways: state, human, and ecological. This is used, along with the evolving literature relating to intergovernmental organizations and climate risk, to analyze the discourse of three RBOs: the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), and the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).It finds that basin stakeholders are increasing securitization actioned through state, human, and ecological security pathways. These dynamics are, in turn, influenced by the RBO’s construction of water security, its organizational structure, and the degree to which the RBO is embedded in other multilateral structures. While, securitization, can have positive impacts in the short-term, this thesis concludes that it ultimately hinders the ability of RBOs to effectively mediate between basin stakeholders and implement effective long-term water management. As increasingly severe effects of climate change are witnessed across the continent and around the world, this conclusion has significant implications for the future of Africa’s security and resilience to environmental change.

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