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No. 8 (287) May 2016


This national workshop organized by the Uzbek Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Scientific-Information Center of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination (SIC ICWC) in Central Asia with the support of the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) as part of the EU-Programme “Sustainable Management of Water Resources in Rural Areas in the Republic of Uzbekistan” was held at the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Land Reclamation (TILR) on the 11th of May 2016.

The goal was to discuss water management at national and transboundary levels, exchange ideas, and create awareness about commitments and advantages raised in context of joining of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the global Water Conventions (The 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, Helsinki; and, the 1997 Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses, New-York).

The workshop’s audience comprised higher- and middle chains of water hierarchy, chief experts from the water-management organizations of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, particularly from Basin Irrigation System Authorities; key men from relevant ministries and agencies, such as ministries for foreign affairs, justice, finances, state committees for environmental conservation and hydrometeorological service; members of Oliy Majlish (Supreme Council) of the Republic of Uzbekistan; as well as lecturers from TILR, Tashkent Agrarian University, University of World Economy and Diplomacy and MA course students from TILR.

The workshop was opened by Sh.Khamraev, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources of Uzbekistan and Head of Central Water Administration at the Ministry, Prof. V.Dukhovniy, Director of SIC ICWC, and K.Milow, GIZ.

Three reports were delivered as the introductory part of the workshop.

Sh.Khamraev in his report outlined the key areas of the state policy of Uzbekistan in part of national and transboundary water use. He underlined such points as the promotion of good neighborhood water relations between the Central Asian states for water and food security in the countries and for regional security in general and the role of international water law (IWL) as a tool to achieve these security dimensions.

Prof. V.Dukhovniy addressed major challenges and achievements in transboundary water cooperation at global and regional levels, particularly in Central Asia. He outlined in his report the general picture of surface water and groundwater distribution all over the world, cited examples of multi- and bilateral cooperation in transboundary river basins, such as Danube (Europe, 18 countries), Niger (Africa, 9 countries), Columbia (North America, USA – Canada) and others. He also made an expert analysis of transboundary water cooperation in Central Asia since independence, by stage and with the future forecast.

Yu.Rysbekov (Professional development division, SIC ICWC) in his lecture on “Evolution of international water law: historical context” touched upon the emergence and formation of international water law alongside with evolution of international law and international environmental law. He particularly noted that the interstate water relations went back to more than 3,000 years and, until XIX, were limited mainly by boundary crossing, navigation, and trade. Later on, a need occurred for legal regulation of diverted water quantity and quality and of harmful transboundary impact. The reporter also presented the international water law doctrines, the role of the International Law Association and the International Law Commission in the development and codification of international water law.

The core part of the workshop was dedicated to the 1992 UNECE Convention and the 1997 UN Convention, in which D.Ziganshina (Deputy Director, SIC ICWC, member of the Implementation Committee under the 1992 UNECE Convention) delivered two detailed lectures. [1]

In the first lecture she gave general information about activity of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the history of the Convention, its ratification status and structure and explained in details the three key elements of the Convention (the obligation to prevent, control and reduce transboundary impacts, the equitable and reasonable use principle, and the obligation to cooperate through agreements and joint bodies). The participants were presented with the Convention bodies, including the Implementation Committee, and the new reporting mechanism, which was to be tested in 2017.

The second lecture outlined the 1997 UN Convention, its history, status, and structure and explained its key substantive (equitable and reasonable utilization, no significant harm, ecosystem protection) and procedural (cooperate, exchange information, and notify on planned activities) obligations. It also described the provisions concerning settlement of disputes in peaceful manner by diplomatic and legal means or by making use of joint institutions or impartial fact-finding commission.

A.Fazilov (Deputy Head of Central Water Administration) in his report addressed the national water reforms in the Republic of Uzbekistan and the interstate water relations in Central Asia. The reporter particularly pointed on the key areas of personnel policies implemented by the ministry and the capacity building activities in the water sector, including organization of training courses for water sector professional development.

SIC ICWC assists the Central Water Administration in the development and organization of training courses and materials. The training areas include such topics, as irrigation; land reclamation; integrated water resources management, etc. Additional training topic is general and is related to water governance, transboundary water use, and national and international water law. The trainees always show their interest in this topic, which also incorporates the matters related to the 1992 UNECE Convention and the 1997 UN Convention, to which Uzbekistan has joined.

Z.Yarullina from the State Committee for Environmental Conservation outlined in her report the measures undertaken for implementation of the Water Conventions. She informed about Committee’s activities in this context, particularly regarding the polluter pays principle, and the challenges faced during implementation, for example, monitoring and assessment of water pollution, primarily measurement of polluted effluents discharged into water sources by businesses.

In the closing part, Yu.Rysbekov delivered the lecture on implementation of the global Water Conventions (Uzbekistan case-study), where he addressed fulfillment of the Uzbekistan’s obligations in context of these Conventions at the national and interstate levels. The participants were presented the key provisions of Uzbek laws that incorporate implementation matters (i.e. fulfillment of obligations by Uzbekistan) under international treaties and recommended the list of measures for implementation.

Finally, Prof. V.Dukhovniy and A.Fazilov wrapped up the workshop. They underlined the importance of such event and thanked the participants and organizers. Additionally, Prof. V.Dukhovniy called on the Uzbek ministries and agencies to take more active part in the programme of work for 2016-2018 under the 1992 UNECE Convention, particularly in its six major directions:

  1. Support to implementation and application of the Convention;
  2. Identifying, assessing and communicating the benefits of transboundary water cooperation;
  3. Water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus in transboundary basins;
  4. Adapting to climate change in transboundary basins;
  5. Opening of the Convention, promotion and partnerships;
  6. European Union Water Initiative and National Policy Dialogues.

Handouts on the workshop topic, including the specially published collection of papers about the two global Conventions and the publications kindly provided by the Global Water Partnership for Caucasus and Central Asia (GWP CACENA) were disseminated among the participants.

In addition, the exclusive Uzbek version of the Water Conventions prepared by the experts of the University of World Economy and Diplomacy under guidance of the Doctor of Law Z.Ubaydullaev and Candidate of Philological sciences Sh. Normatova was presented to the participants. SIC ICWC initiated this translation in order to submit the Uzbek versions to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan and get the official status to these texts, after appropriate edition, if necessary. The official translation of the Conventions in Uzbek will ensure consistent and unambiguous interpretation of their texts in the course of implementation in the Republic.

In the end the participants thanked the organizers of the workshop and pointed to a need for organization of such events on a permanent basis.

Professional development division, SIC ICWC

[1] The Implementation Committee for support, encouragement and application of the Convention was founded by the Meeting of the Parties during its Sixth meeting in Rome, 28-30 November 2012. The Committee is comprised of 9 members nominated by the Parties to the Convention and elected at the Meeting of the Parties.