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Iraq confirms progress towards accession to the UNECE Water Convention in 2016

Iraq confirmed its intention to accede to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) this year. After announcing its interest in joining the Convention in 2012, in 2013 Iraq established a national committee to study the implications for the country of joining the Convention. Following up on the committee’s positive preliminary findings, the workshop “The UNECE Water Convention: Key aspects and opportunities for Iraq”, held in Amman, Jordan on 13 and 14 January 2016, addressed both the legal aspects and the practical implementation of the Convention in order to facilitate the preparations for accession. At the workshop, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Mohsin Al-Shimmary, confirmed that the Government of Iraq expected to accede to the Convention in 2016.

The Minister’s statement confirms that Iraq is on track to become the first country from beyond the UNECE to accede to the Water Convention.

Iraq depends on the resources of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers for drinking water, industry and agriculture. The two rivers, which account for 98% of the country’s surface water, originate in Iran, Syria and Turkey. Currently, Iraq faces serious challenges in the management of its water resources, with decreasing availability, deteriorating quality and growing pressures from demographic growth and climate change impacts. Transboundary cooperation is therefore increasingly important to guarantee the sound management of the country’s transboundary water resources and to contribute to its sustainable development.

The Ministry of Water Resources of Iraq and UNECE organized the national workshop recognizing that the Water Convention offers a solid, comprehensive framework for transboundary water cooperation between Iraq and its neighbours. The workshop detailed the obligations of the global Convention, the benefits of becoming a Party as well as the possible challenges to its implementation, combined with examples of its implementation on the ground. Among the benefits of joining the Convention, it was highlighted that:

  • By proving its commitment to international water law, Iraq could attract support from the international community.
  • By strengthening its experience on and knowledge of transboundary water management, Iraq would strengthen its capacity to engage in cooperation with its neighbouring countries.

For more information, please visit: http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=41604#/