The Hague, The Netherlands, 19 Nov 2013

UNESCO-IHE participates in International Conference: Water Security and Peace

Currently, there are 276 shared basins, and 60% of these transboundary basins are lacking clear agreements. This can create friction and become a cause of water disputes. On November 14 and 15, diplomats, scientists and policy makers gathered at the International Conference for Water Security and Peace to discuss the role of negotiation, mediation and conciliation in evidence-based cases of water diplomacy. During this event, which was held in the Peace Palace in The Hague, participants from different levels and organizations presented their perspectives and solutions.

As member of the Water Diplomacy Consortium (WDC) that organized this high level international working conference on Water Security and Peace, UNESCO-IHE had a substantial role in this event. After the opening plenary, participants joined one of the three different working group sessions and UNESCO-IHE was involved in two of those sessions.

A system analytical perspective

"How can system analytical approaches improve the dialogue between politicians, diplomats and systems analysts in a transboundary context and lead to fair sharing of international water?" This was the main starting point for the session, chaired by Prof. Pieter van der Zaag and Joop de Schutter of UNESCO-IHE. After an introductory session, the working group focused on the role of systems analyses in two different case studies: Aral Sea Basin and Nile Basin. 
During the Aral Sea Basin session, representatives of all countries involved shared their views on and experiences with the management model and database as an integrated modelling framework for planning and communication of transboundary water management in the Aral Sea Basin. Prof. Van der Zaag presented the final results of the working group sessions, during the plenary closing. The video of this presentation can be found in the sidebar.

Making Cooperation Work

The session focused on the legal, institutional and political perspective on cooperation was chaired by Lena Salame, who is Programme Specialist at the headquarters of UNESCO. The first speaker she introduced was Zaki Shubber, Lecturer in Law and Water Diplomacy at UNESCO-IHE. In her talk, Shubber mainly focused on the role of international water law in water diplomacy. In addition she pointed out some possible obstacles. 
One possible bottleneck could be a lack of scientific expertise. Judges are trained to apply law, but they don't necessarily have the scientific background to be able to value scientific results and proof. Meanwhile, they are supposed to be able to resolve disputes when both parties don't succeed in finding a resolution their selves.
One interesting mechanism for dispute settlement was highlighted by one of the speakers. One of the case studies presented during the conference, showed an interesting approach to address a lack of scientific expertise. When questions were raised about the legality of construction activities in the Indus, an engineer was included in arbitral tribunal and was given a vote. 


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