What is international water law and how can it help strengthen transboundary water cooperation in practice? On 12 and 13 September 2013, these issues are being discussed at the national seminar organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, in cooperation with the Department of Water Management and Melioration of the Ministry of Agriculture and Melioration of Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan is an upstream country — more than 3,500 rivers and springs have their origins on its territory. With the Syr Darya River flowing into Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the Chu and Talas flowing into Kazakhstan, the small south-eastern catchment areas of the Aksay, Sary Dzhaz and Kek Suu draining to China, and the Kyzyl Suu serving as tributary of the Amu Darya Basin, Kyrgyzstan plays an important role in the management of water resources in Central Asia. The cooperation of Kyrgyzstan with neighbouring countries is crucial for the stability and prosperity of the region, which faces the challenging task of regulating the water flow for the purposes of hydropower production, irrigation, flood protection and ensuring the preservation of vital ecosystems.
The two-day training will focus on an article-by-article explanation of the principles and provisions of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) and the 1997 Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses (United Nations Watercourses Convention), as well as international customary law, and aims to enhance the application of international water law in Central Asia.
The national seminar is organized in the framework of the “Regional Dialogue and Cooperation on Water Resources Management in Central Asia” programme (Phase II), financed by the Government of Germany through the German Agency for International Cooperation under the Berlin Water Process. A delegation from Tajikistan, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, is also taking part in the meeting.
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Note for editors:
The UNECE Water Convention of 1992, in force since 1996, aims to strengthen national measures and transboundary cooperation for the protection and ecologically sound management of transboundary surface waters and groundwaters. Thirty-eight States and the European Union are Parties to the Water Convention. In Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are Parties to this instrument.
The United Nations Watercourses Convention of 1997, soon expected to enter into force, establishes standards and rules for cooperation between watercourse States on the use, management, and protection of international watercourses. In Central Asia, only Uzbekistan has ratified this Convention.
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