Arab water conference proposes actions to avoid future conflict


11 June 2012

By: Nadiah Jouhari

UNDP Iraq representatives recently attended the Arab Water Conference in Baghdad under the title of “The Application of International Law in Protecting Arab Water Rights in Shared Waters with non-Arab countries”.

The conference was under the patronage of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and organised by the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources and the General Assembly of the Arab League.  The Prime Minister previously stated that Arab countries could be heading towards a “water war”.

The Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources led discussions at the conference on a variety of topics ranging from the principles and criteria for shared rivers and international waters to previous experiences of water management by Arab countries.

13 recommendations were made at the conference for future implementation.  These included the adoption of a shared water agreement between Arab states to ensure the equitable and rational division of water areas and the creation of a committee of Senior Water Specialists to propose practical, legal, political and technical mechanisms.

The conference encouraged organisations and regional centres to implement training courses for Arab countries in the fields of water management and negotiations and promoted irrigation efficiency to confront the increased demand for water, especially with climate change and investment programmes affecting supply.  The conference increased awareness on the importance of water conservation and encouraged farmers and water users to optimize their water use and reduce water losses.   The participants advocated for increased cooperation with specialized UN organisations that support the Arab League in the field of water related management issues. 

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