The securitization of water discourse: theoretical foundations, research gaps and objectives of the special issue

Itay Fischhendler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The water literature is saturated with securitization jargon. Coloring a discourse that could have been political, technical or economic in securitization rhetoric is especially prominent in the literature and policy on the securitization of transboundary water. However, despite the tendency to address water as a securitized resource, it is often unclear what the term “water security” means. Also, unclear are the contextual variables that trigger the use of such discourse; the way in which securitization is institutionalized; and its impacts on the decision-making process. This paper aims to systematically review the missing gaps around the securitization enigma. It also provides a rudimentary typology for potential mechanisms to securitize the water discourse and their potential impact on decision-making processes. Among the mechanisms identified are structural ones such as setting buffer zones around water infrastructure; institutional ones such as the exclusion of civil society from decision-making processes; and linguistic ones such as the use of framing and narratives for justifying military involvements. The securitization of the discourse is not likely to be distributed equally in time and space and is likely to be triggered by disasters, resource scarcity and power asymmetry. Some institutional venues are likely to be more receptive to such rhetoric.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)245-255
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 24 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Discourse
  • Securitization
  • Water


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