Ban outlines UN role in resolving Central Asian tensions over water resources
Ban Ki-moon today proposed a major United Nations
role as “a cure-all” for resolving tensions in
“The question is
how to use common resources for common prosperity,” Mr. Ban told a news conference
Tajikistan’s proposal to complete the Rogun hydroelectric dam on the Vakhsh River has raised concern among downstream countries, especially neighbouring Uzbekistan where any cut in water could affect its economy, particularly cotton production, and Mr. Ban called on the five former Soviet states to use a UN preventive diplomacy centre in the region to reduce tensions and promote dialogue.
“Whether it is
oil and natural gas or water, this method should be used fairly and harmoniously,
it is in the interest of neighbouring countries. This
is a collective responsibility, both of the leaders of
“We need to sit down and resolve these issues in a harmonious way, to benefit all. In this regard, I asked the President, as I did other leaders, to appoint a permanent focal point to work with the UN in promoting regional dialogue.”
Mr. Ban cited last month’s agreement on the terms of reference for a World Bank environmental feasibility study on the Rogun dam as a positive development, noting that the Tajik Government told him Bank personnel would arrive this month to keep the project under constant consideration.
“I am encouraged
to note that the leaders of both
But he voiced
deep concern about a potential crisis from the blockage of train shipments on
the Tajik-Uzbek border, particularly agricultural inputs during the planting
season. Tajik officials have been quoted in the media as saying freight traffic
is being blocked, holding up shipments, including Afghanistan-bound supplies,
in what some analysts ascribe to Uzbek fears over the dam project.
As he has at the other stops on his tour, Mr. Ban urged the Government to further strengthen human rights and justice institutions, comply fully with international human rights laws and the many treaties to which it is a signatory, to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, including its request that independent experts be allowed to visit Tajikistan.
“I encouraged the Government, as well as parliamentary leaders, to broaden their partnership with civil society,” he said. “As in other countries, media freedom, tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and a robust civil society are fundamental to modernization.”