Tuesday, October 15, 2002

More on the Wazzani River Dispute

This AM on the radio, Prof. Dan Zaslavsky described the impact of the Lebanese diversion of the Wazzani River. The Wazzani provides about 10% of the inflow to Lake Kinneret, and that amount is endangered as Lebanon drains progressively more water.

Zaslavsky says: Reducing the flow of the Wazzani will increase the already-high salinity of the Kinneret by a third. The Lebanese can easily use the Litani River for their domestic needs, but they are testing us and our response. Egypt is hypothetically vulnerable to a similar move by Sudan on the Nile, and much of Syria's water comes from Turkey - so other Arab countries are largely staying quiet on this.

Here's a 1996 article from a legal journal on water disputes in the Middle East. According to it, the 1994 Draft Articles of the International Law Commission "have a significant de facto impact" on water disputes.

According to Article 7, a state must "exercise due diligence to prevent causing significant harm" to a downstream state, where "significant harm" is defined as "“real impairment of use”. I am not a lawyer, but "due diligence" in this context apparently means that the issue must be resolved through negotiations.

As an aside, it's interesting that lawyers speak of "theories" for these things rather than "proposals".

Note the way this AP article takes a few words from Zaslavsky to make him sound like a warmonger while this pious 1997 NPR report portrays him as an environmentalist.

Update: Report on the official opening of the pumping station.

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