NEWS AND EVENTS
October 28, 2008
on Uzbekistan’s position regarding
the issue of rational use of water resources in Central Asia
Nowadays, the rational use of natural resources, first of all water-energy resources, is one of the most serious problems in Central Asian region.
Different and ambiguous approaches in this sphere impede the development, lead to conflict situations, and sometimes even to ecological disasters. The fate of drying out the Aral Sea can be an example of tragic consequences that affect not only the people of Central Asia but also the huge subregion and even Eurasia.
Shrinkage of the Aral Sea undermined the basics of life in the Aral Sea basin and brought to the chronic shortage of irrigation and drinking water. Saline and dusty storms that are formed on the surface of naked bottom of the sea destroy the harvest and flora. This situation caused the enormous economic damage to fishery and hunting ground as well as resulted in the decrease of pasture productivity and crop capacity.
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov in his speech on the 48th and 50th sessions of the UN General Assembly noted that “the Aral Sea is one of the greatest ecological and humanitarian disasters in the history of mankind, where millions of people living in the sea basin has been severely affected ”.
The water resources of the Aral Sea basin are formed from renewable surface and underground waters of natural origin as well as from recycling waters of formed as a result of economic activities. All water resources of the region originate from the basin of Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers.
In case of deviation from current state of transboundary water resources, the Central Asian countries, where reside more than 50 million population, may face a bigger scaled ecological disaster as well as problems in irrigation and drinking water supply of population and agriculture in the region, and regular droughts with corresponding consequences.
All decisions on the use of transboundary rivers’ watercourse for the construction of hydroelectric facilities must not inflict any damage to ecology and impair interests of the population in the neighboring countries. It is noteworthy that this is about the use of resources and watercourses of transboundary rivers providing vital needs of countries and peoples living alongside the flows of those rivers for over 100 years.
The need for use of transboundary rivers’ watercourse wisely has been stipulated in UN Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context dated February 25, 1991, UN Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes dated March 17, 1992 and the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses dated May 21, 1997 that mandate consideration of “ensuring a use of transboundary waters wisely and justly taking into account their transboundary nature while conducting an activity that might cause transboundary impact”.
In case of such a damage all efforts must be undertaken to eliminate or lessen the damage and if necessary the issue of compensation should be raised.
UN decisions provide that “states on the watercourse cooperate on the basis of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, mutual benefit and conscientiousness”.
According to these fundamental requirements of UN Conventions the guarantees must be made by authoritative international experts that hydrotechnical facilities in the region will not have irremediable ecologic consequences and will not damage existing balance of use of transboundary rivers’ watercourse by all countries alongside the basin of those rivers. Feasibility studies of new hydrotechnical facilities on the basins of transboundary rivers must be an object of mandatory, impartial expertise by neutral international auditing agencies.
Such principal position is shared by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. And in Uzbekistan, they express hope, that the position of these very reputed international financial institutions will be an example for other organizations and states, which will enable to strengthen, at last, the social-economic security and stability in the region.
Investor-states, which express their will to participate in realization of such projects, should remember about the necessity of observing these conditions.
This position is not the statement of special privileges for Uzbekistan on priority usage of transboundary rivers’ water resources. The position of Uzbekistan not only completely conforms the norms of international law and regulations in this sphere, but, what is no lesser important, it derives from them.
Each country has the right for realization of projects on the usage of the resources of transboundary rivers, including the hydrotechnic construction, only on the conditions of its independent technical-economic and ecological examination based on the principles of transparency and provision of complete information to the interested parties.
With all this, two utmost important conditions must be guaranteed. First – the decrease of the level of waterflow for countries located down the stream should not take place. Second – the ecological security of the region, which is already unstable, should not be disrupted.
Uzbekistan, on its part, will continue adopting consistent measures on providing of hydro-energetic balance in the region, with an aim of preserving the peace and stability, strengthening the security in Central Asia.
City of Tashkent
October 27, 2008
Press-service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Republic of Uzbekistan