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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

After the briefing at the US Mission to the UN I crossed the street to the UN proper and found out that the UN had two extraordinary activities that day:

(1) The Launching of an International Year of Water Cooperation in the morning followed by a Press Conference at the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium.

(2) The Launching of the United Nations Children’s Tour in the Visitor’s Lobby – to which all accredited Journalists and media affiliates were invited.

The second event was easy to reject – this because of the fact that the invitation sounded exclusive and then because we always thought that the UN was established in order to do serious business and we never liked the idea that it is being turned by its leaders into a tourist trap.

Oh well! This left the first activity which looked suspicious as well. What is it WATER COOPERATION?

As I was looking for a particular journalist I found my way to the Water Cooperation Press Conference and watched three presentation by three people – The UN Ambasssador from Hungary, Mr. Csaba Korosi, a science specialist for UNESCO Ms. Ana Persic, and Mr. Paul D. Egerton the World Meteorological Organization (Headquartered in Geneva) Representative in New York.

I understood that the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2013 as International Year for Water Cooperation in 2010 following a request by Tadjikistan that is short of water and has disputes with its neighbor Uzbekistan. Instead of looking at the political dispute and at the shortage of water in that dry part of central Asia, the UN gave the lead to the issue to UNESCO which is running UN Water – a project that looks at the importance of water in general. So what we got was a scientific presentation of climate change, droughts and tsunamis. Instead of having an Ambassador from n Asian dryland we got the Ambassador from Hungary and presentations on the importance of water for poverty reduction. We heard of Climate Security and catastrophic weather, of migration and water vulnerability – BUT WHAT ABOUT COOPERATION BETWEEN THE UZBEKS and the TADJIKS? What about international water-sharing laws and agreements?

Yes, from our experience we know that WMD does terrific scientific work as they did when we needed them to prepare information on climate change for the IPCC – but they are not a political organization – not even UNESCO can push for COOPERATION between governments, so what was this event about.

I decided to bring up what I learned just last week from the Brahmah Chellaney presentation at the Asia Society, and which I posted as:

Asia is poorer in water then Africa, and China’s Tibetan Plateau dominates Asia water supply and could impact all other States. Professor Brahma Chellaney of New Delhi publicizes these problems in his books. Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2013

My question was about the Water-Hegemony of China because of the fact that most of the rivers originate on the Tibetan Plateau and China does not care to make water agreements with its neighbors. India is a victim of such disputes with China and the development of the whole region will stop because of lack of water and of agreements to share the water.

The answer came crystal clear – the studies will be prepared by scientists and not political people – that will be up to the governments. Let us say that if the UN is not ready to accept the task of getting countries together there is no sense in talking of cooperation – just another example that the UN cannot step up to the plate.

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And The Revealing Inner City Press Report: UN’s Water Year Is All Wet, Distinguishing Science & Politics, Tajik Sponsors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 – The year of 2013 is the year of many things, but according to the UN General Assembly it is the International Year of Water Cooperation, credited to a request by Tajikistan in 2010. Inner City Press covered that 2010 hoopla, here.

At the UN on Monday Inner City Press asked at the inevitable UN press conference about the Tajik – Uzbekistan water and dam dispute, and if the press conference panel’s singling out of Tajikistan for praise didn’t constitute taking sides in this dispute. Video here, from Minute 22:13.

The World Meteorological Organization’s Paul Egerton replied that WMO and UNESCO, whose Ana Persic was also on the panel, are both scientific organizations. “The starting point is to focus on scientific and environmental issues,” he said. “There may be discussions at the high political level, in the UN Security Council or other venues, of the political issues.”

But water cooperation is, of course, a “political” issue.

Witness the Nile Basin and an agreement signed by seven countries but not by Egypt or Sudan. Can UNESCO solve this? The Security Council seems unlikely to get involved on the Nile, much less the Uzbek – Tajik conflict.

Inner City Press began by thanking the panelists on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access. Also on the panel was Hungary’s Permanent Representative Csaba Korosi, who told Inner City Press that “we as member states cannot decide on behalf of other member states to sort out their bilateral problems.”

But that is precisely what the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter purports to do. Sudan, North Korea, Eritrea and others would like what Csaba Korosi said to be true. But it is not.

Csaba Korosi went on to say that the International Year of Water Cooperation is also “to raise awareness of solutions” and is about the “SDGs and the post 2015 development agenda.”

But isn’t everything?

Still, his answer at least acknowledged that these are political problems, and not only scientific. Now who will solve them? Watch this site.

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