Needed: water declaration
Sophie Poklewski-Koziell and Johanne Dorais-Slakmon’s
article “No life without water” (Issue 3-1994)
develops the theme most admirably. Water has, indeed, been
used as an instrument of war throughout history.
The ICRC has, through its water and sanitation engineers
and hydrotechnicians, rendered yeoman service. The international
community, for its part, has been sorely remiss on this
count. It has largely ignored the problem which threatens
to assume far graver proportions. As Ameur Zemmali of the
ICRC’s Legal Division points out, the law is not silent.
There are “extensive provisions” in domestic
and international law on the protection of water resources
in times of armed conflict.
But the law does need reaffirmation and in a manner that
compels attention and emphasises the need for its compliance.
The best course, I submit, is for the ICRC to work for a
resolution by the UN General Assembly embodying not
a Convention but a “Declaration on Water”.
One hopes the ICRC will issue a statement on the subject
containing appropriate formulations followed by one from
the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
The National Societies must, next, follow it up. All in
preparation for taking up the matter in the General Assembly,