Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at a UN Security Council open debate on water, peace and security

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening this important debate. We also appreciate the very useful introductions made by today's distinguished briefers.

Ukraine aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the EU. In my national capacity, I would like to add the following.

Water, being a source of life and development, has become a major strategic challenge. Under the constant and growing pressure from human activities, population growth, accidents and climate change, water resources require from us to be more active in adopting strategic approach to promote best solutions and strengthening our international commitments.

Striking an optimal balance between the practical economic needs of the society, its sustainable development and protection of water resources, and providing a consistent foundation of human- friendly environment in the future has become one of the most important tasks of the international community. This long-term objective is yet to be achieved.

It is also noteworthy that, in light of scarcity of freshwater and its uneven distribution across the globe, competition for it can lead to conflicts. Even in the XXI century, our technological and scientific advances have not yet completely satisfied the humanity’s thirst, thus the potential for a conflict remains.

The Council rarely dealt with water issues, it was mainly focusing on the role of other natural resources such as gold, diamonds, timber, etc in fueling armed conflicts in some countries of Africa. On the other hand, for instance, in Sudan, water scarcity is considered one of the drivers of the conflict in Darfur.

Throughout the human history, warring armies have not shunned away from employing such asymmetric warfare tactics, as poisoning of water dwells, redirecting water flows to flood an enemy and so on. Even today, we all remember threats of ISIL to blow up the Mosul Dam, thus causing a real humanitarian disaster.

This most recent example clearly demonstrates the need to consider carefully the issue of protection of critical infrastructure through the promotion of international cooperation on preventing terrorist attacks against them. In this respect, I would like to all participants of yesterday's Arria-formula meeting on this subject for their constructive discussion.

For the Security Council, which bears primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the issue of water should become an essential element of its overall work in area of conflict prevention.

Quite recently, Council members already had a fruitful discussion on this topic at the Arria formula meeting last April, initiated by the Senegalese delegation. Many UN Member States shared a position that an effective interstate management of water resources could prevent eruption of conflicts around the world. Ideas and proposals expressed at that meeting provide a solid basis for today’s consideration.

I would like to recall and commend the Senegalese efforts in promoting the peace and stability in the West African region through strengthening transboundary cooperation in water sharing of the Gambia River.

The European continent is also working on expanding interstate cooperation on water. For example, Ukraine, together with 13 other countries and the European Union, are actively dealing with the sustainable and equitable water management of the Danube through the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River. This Organization has grown into one of the largest and most active international bodies of river basin management expertise in the world.

I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the important role of such instruments as the 1992 UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Trans-boundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Helsinki 1992) and the 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (New York 1997) in promoting equitable, sustainable and integrated management of trans-boundary water resources.

I also wish to note the activities of the United Nations Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia in promoting a regional cooperation on water resources management, which is a core factor for strengthening stability in that region.

In my country, the Water Code of Ukraine is the main regulatory act that governs legal relations in the area of protection and rational use of water recourses. It is based on the principle of basin water resources management. Nowadays, Ukraine continues to implement basin management principle in practice, in particular it continues consistent work on establishing basin authorities – structures that directly at the local level implement the policy of integrated water resources management in the interests of local communities and economy.

Mr President,

I would like to use this opportunity to draw your attention to the resolution on protection of the environment in areas affected by armed conflict, which was adopted by the United Nations Environment Assembly at its second session (23-27 May 2016, Nairobi). This document reflects the international community’s unanimous support for protection of the environment in times of armed conflicts and reaffirms the need to respect the relevant international obligations under international humanitarian law.

Unfortunately, Ukraine has also recently faced many environmental issues as a result of the foreign military aggression in Donbas.

Therefore, Ukraine believes that greater awareness of the issue and practical implementation of the provisions of the resolution, as well as of the relevant international law, will foster protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts and reduce conflict-related environmental impacts, thus ensuring the successful delivery of the environmental dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. President,

In our statement we touched upon only a limited number of aspects of the water issue. At the same time, strengthening our efforts in conflict prevention and peacebuilding in post-conflict societies require more focus in our work on ensuring the protection of water supplies in various regions of the world.

We hope that today’s deliberations will result in useful ideas on how to address this subject in an effective and result-oriented manner.

I thank you.