The Crisis In The Middle East India Beyond its Neighbours

[op-ed snap] Water as a force for peace


  1. Ban Ki-Moon and his predecessor, Kofi Annan, have argued for some two decades that protecting and sharing natural resources, particularly water, is critical to peace and security
  2. It was not until last November that the issue gained widespread acknowledgement, UN holding its first-ever official debate on water, peace and security
  3. Representatives of 69 governments together called for water to be transformed from a potential source of crisis into an instrument of peace and cooperation

Threats to water:

  1. The growing recognition of water’s strategic relevance reflects global developments
  2. In the last three years, the Islamic State (IS) captured the Tabqa, Tishrin, Mosul, and Fallujah dams on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
  3. IS subsequently lost control of all of them, but not before using them to flood or starve downstream populations, to pressure them to surrender
  4. Extremist groups in South Asia have also threatened to attack water infrastructure

Oil or Water- what is more important?

  1. The importance of water in the 21st century—comparable to that of oil in the 20th—can hardly be overstated
  2. The reality is that oil has alternatives like natural gas, wind, solar, and nuclear energy
  3. By contrast, for industry and agriculture as much as for drinking and sanitation, the only alternative to water, is water
  4. The same is true for trade. In the event of a security crisis, water bodies could be taken over by rogue forces. The impact on the global economy would be enormous

Water needs to be declared a “strategic resource of humanity”

  1. The International Committee of the Red Cross negotiates safe passage for technicians to inspect and repair damage to water pipes and storage systems in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine
  2. Each passage needs to be negotiated with governments in conflict and rebel commanders—a long and cumbersome process
  3. A better approach would be for great powers, with their considerable influence, to negotiate short-term ceasefires in areas experiencing protracted conflict, specifically to repair and restore water systems
  4. To pave the way for such an approach, the UNSC will have to declare water a “strategic resource of humanity” and adopt a resolution to protect water resources and installations, similar to Resolution 2286
  5. In the longer term, countries that share riparian systems will need to establish regional security arrangements to preserve and protect their resources


With collaborative management underpinning collective protection, water, often a source of competition and conflict, could become a facilitator of peace and cooperation. Holding back of water and not allowing it for use in downstream areas has been seen since time immemorial. However, when such an activity is done by rogues, it is difficult to find solutions to this. Owing to the importance of waterways, in mains a question can be asked on this issue. You need to focus on measures to solve this problem.


  1. Rio Chagres feeds the Panama Canal, through which 50% of the trade between Asia and the Americas flows. There is no risk of the natural depletion of the river flow for the next 100 years, but for the extremist groups
  2. Resolution 2286 was adopted to protect medical facilities in armed conflicts
  3. Denis Sassou-Nguesso, president of the Republic of the Congo, is leading a group of eight governments towards the establishment of the Blue Fund for the Congo Basin. If successful, the Fund will help to mitigate climate change, create new avenues of river-based employment, and promote collective security in an unstable region
  4. 263 river basins and lakes of the world are shared
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