Recommendations of the International Water Forum in Hesekê

This report was published by ANF English on 29 September, 2021

The International Water Forum in North and East Syria has concluded with a series of recommendations from the 300 delegates from inside and outside the country. The Turkish state is to be sued for using water as a weapon of war.

Under the auspices of the Committee for Local Government and Environment of the Cizîrê Region, the University of Rojava and the Center for Strategic Studies, the “International Water Forum in North and East Syria” has taken place in Hesekê. The two-day forum aimed to shed light on international agreements and laws related to water, to draw attention to regional water politics and the war over the exploitation of water resources in political and economic conflicts, and to discuss risks and challenges related to the issue of water security and sustainable water development. The economic, social and environmental impacts of Turkey’s use of water and water infrastructure as a weapon were also on the forum’s agenda, as was the search for strategies to address the water crisis in northern and eastern Syria.

The event was attended by some 300 delegates from home and abroad, including representatives of civil society institutions and humanitarian organizations, environmental organizations and ecology movements, as well as numerous scientists and water rights experts. On Tuesday, the forum concluded with a set of recommendations that are intended as a work program for the coming period.

Among the recommendations are:

– Condemning the Turkish state’s policy of using water as a political weapon against civilians in northern and eastern Syria, the entire Syrian state, and Iraq.

– Submitting a general and comprehensive report on behalf of the Forum’s participants on all violations of international laws and water agreements by the Turkish state to the United Nations and European Union bodies, as well as to international organizations and human rights organizations.

– Calling on the international community to put pressure on the Turkish state to change its policies and violations of laws applicable to shared international waters.

– Filing a lawsuit against the Turkish state for violating international law, international norms, bilateral and tripartite agreements to which it had previously committed itself regarding the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as well as for using water as a weapon of war, which is a violation of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

– Sharing the results of this forum with concerned civil society organizations and civil society in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey.

– Calling on the international community to intervene immediately and fulfill its humanitarian duty in the region regarding the impact of water shortages and the consequences for communities and refugee camps.

– Documenting all presentations and research discussed at the forum and processing them to create a water map for optimal investment.

– Calling on the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria to solve the water problems through dialogue and cooperation with the concerned authorities in Iraq and Syria and international organizations and forces, as it is a humanitarian issue.

– Establishing projects to support water sources, secure sustainable sources, build small and medium dams on small rivers, build water desalination centers and provide river water to water-scarce areas.

– Collaborating with humanitarian organizations and human rights organizations to provide material and moral support to address the impacts and risks of the water crisis in the region.

– Calling on the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria to set and benefit from long-term strategies and policies based on research and studies conducted by research centers to avoid the effects of the water crisis in the region and to face the negative consequences and environmental disasters of water scarcity.

– Establishing serious and binding programs for rationalization and awareness of the different uses of water in collaboration between the Autonomous Administration and the research centers.

– Requesting the Autonomous Administration to establish study centers specialized in water security.

– Construction of wastewater treatment plants.

– Use of alternative energy methods, air and solar energy.

– The possibility of using the Tigris River and bringing its water to areas suffering from water shortages.

– Focusing on the need to maintain the cleanliness of flowing water and its monitoring by local administrative bodies in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, and establishing programs and measures that deter individuals, groups, companies and institutions that do not comply with hygiene standards in and near river basins and also for groundwater.

– Preparing a comprehensive and in-depth study of the human, economic and water resources in the region and their use for the needs of development in its various orientations, especially in relation to water, its sources and the methods of its management.

– Submitting a general and comprehensive report on this forum with the possible solutions and proposals put forward by the presenters for the preservation of existing water sources and the development of new ones, and sending it to the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria to follow up, consider and implement the proposals within the capabilities of the follow-up Committee.

– Establishing a follow-up committee resulting from the forum to follow up on the implementation of the recommendations and proposals.

– Calling on the Autonomous Administration to form a diplomatic committee to deal with water issues.