International Water Law for strengthening regional cooperation

Publication date: 20 December 2017

December 18-19, 2017. A two-day workshop on basic principles of the International Water Law and mechanisms of the international cooperation on use of transboundary water resources took place in Tashkent. The event was organized within the joint project “Smart Waters” of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources (MAWR) of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Such workshops have been recently held in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

According to organizers, this workshop is a good example of joint efforts in the issues of environmental protection and efficient management of water resources. It complies with the principles of foreign policy and improvement of legislation, which are indicated in the Action Strategy for further development of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021.

Currently, there are more than 260 river basins worldwide with controversial aspects of water use, and the legal regulation becomes the main driving factor of their resolution and prevention. Most of the water resources in Central Asia are transboundary, and the regulatory legal acts need to be updated on the basis of international experience and considering regional interests.

“Networking and academic exchange between the countries is the key to mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation for sustainable economic development and environmental protection”, said USAID Director in Uzbekistan Mr. Gary Robbins.  

The main lecturer of two-day workshop was the world-renowned expert on the issues of international water law Prof. Sergey Vinogradov (the University of Dundee, Great Britain). The training workshop gathered the representatives of ministries, agencies and public organizations of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which carry out their activities in the sphere of water resources protection and participate in regional cooperation on management of transboundary waters. In addition, the representatives of academic society, lecturers, and students from Tashkent universities participated in the event.

“The workshop is the part of CAREC support to the region for the strengthening of cooperation and development of national and regional dialogues on solving water issues,” noted the Director of CAREC Branch in Uzbekistan Ms. Shakhnoza Umarova. “Another main goal is to widen and strengthen academic cooperation in the sphere of International Water Law.

During the workshop, participants discussed global water conventions and their application in the Aral Sea basin, the issues of procedural obligations and information exchange mechanisms in the field of protection and use of transboundary watercourses, as well as current issues related to the operation of water management facilities on transboundary watercourses and other topics.

“The idea and initiative of such workshop are very actual, considering the issues of water resources in Central Asia and the new trends towards greater openness and the search for compromise, which are now very visible in the region,” said Prof. Sergey Vinogradov after the events. “This allows the invited lecturers to satisfy the curiosity of participants, their desire to receive new information and modern experience related to solving similar issues in other regions. I would like to note the high professional level of workshop participants, their good knowledge of legal framework, hydrology and water resources exploitation. Personally, I have received great satisfaction, and it was especially pleasant that there were various agencies related to water issues: not only the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but also representatives of academic institutions, higher education institutions, and other relevant organizations. It is very important to have such a broad representation in terms of participation and contribution of participants to the workshop, as well as in terms of the possible impact of such activities.”

At the end of the two-day workshop, all attendees received Certificates of Participation.

The Smart Waters project, funded by USAID in Central Asian countries and Afghanistan, has been implemented by CAREC since 2015. The project aims to support the establishment of the professional network, to provide strategic advice on sustainable water resources management, and to develop regional dialogue on water resources and capacity building. CAREC has already established good partnership with the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers (TIIAME) within this project. It is also planned to develop cooperation with such institutes as the Academy of Public Administration and the Institute of Strategic and Interregional Researchers under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED), and the Tashkent State University of Law.

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