Human Rights Council

Agenda Item 3: General Debate

- Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

9 March 2018

Mr. President,

IUS PRIMI VIRI and Geneva International Centre for Justice would like to stress the role of water scarcity in armed conflict in the Middle East. History has revealed that a freshwater deficit has the potential to spark or increase hostility in semi-arid countries. In this regard, water scarcity has aggravated the humanitarian situation in Syria.

According to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment 15, there is an implicit right to water in the International Bill of Human Rights. The right to water is indispensable in order to secure an adequate standard of living, as protected under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Furthermore, we would like to point out that deprivation of freshwater may be used as a “means of oppression”, as in the case of Israel, which impedes Palestinians from having access to their water sources.

While climate models robustly project that the current aridification of the wider Mediterranean and Middle East will continue and intensify in the coming decades, there is an urgent need for all stakeholders to work towards ensuring that all people in the Middle East enjoy their right to water. Especially regarding Syria the provision of fresh water to the people must be prioritized, in order for peace to be fully achieved.

Thank you

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