Trust in Transboundary Waters : Identifying Trust-Building in Water Diplomacy Literature

M Keskinen, E Häkkinen, J Haapala, B Sharipova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Trust-building, one of the key tools in diplomatic negotiations and peace processes, is an essential way to promote cooperation over transboundary waters shared by several countries. Combining water-related know-how with diplomatic mechanisms and foreign policy, water diplomacy provides a particularly relevant context in which to approach trust over transboundary waters. This paper examines trust and trust-building activities in literature related to water diplomacy, linking them to conceptualisations of trust in the fields of international relations and natural resource management. The reviewed publications and key-informant interviews emphasise the importance of trust in water diplomacy processes. The literature and interviews also allow us to identify ten categories of potential trust-building activities in water diplomacy. Based on this, we propose a basic conceptualisation for approaching trust and trust-building in water diplomacy. The findings indicate that, while trust is considered an important element in water diplomacy processes, the discussion would benefit from a more systematic approach. At the same time, water diplomacy processes provide a unique context for studying the role of trust and trust-building in international relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-977
Number of pages29
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Water diplomacy
  • International relations
  • Natural resource management
  • Shared waters
  • Transboundary waters
  • Trust
  • Trust-building
  • Water cooperation


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