Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 26 January 2016 (3rd Sitting) (see Doc. 13931, report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and
Sustainable Development, rapporteur: Ms Milica Marković). Text adopted by the Assembly on
26 January 2016 (3rd Sitting).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly reminds
all its member States that the right to water is essential to life
and health, in accordance with the 1966 Helsinki Rules on the Uses
of the Waters of International Rivers and the 2004 Berlin Rules
on Water Resources, and thus constitutes a prior condition for the
enjoyment of other human rights. The Assembly emphasises the obligation
of States to secure their population’s access to sufficient, safe and
affordable water resources.
2. The Assembly regards unimpeded access to drinking water, which
cannot be restricted by the existence of borders, as a basic right,
a source of life and an asset of strategic importance to every State.
It confirms that deliberate deprivation of water cannot be used
as a means to harm innocent citizens.
3. The Assembly considers that the deliberate creation of an
artificial environmental crisis must be regarded as “environmental
aggression” and seen as a hostile act by one State towards another
aimed at creating environmental disaster areas and making normal
life impossible for the population concerned.
4. It deplores the fact that the occupation by Armenia of Nagorno-Karabakh
and other adjacent areas of Azerbaijan creates similar humanitarian
and environmental problems for the citizens of Azerbaijan living
in the Lower Karabakh valley.
5. The Assembly recalls that, in their statement of 20 May 2014,
the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs expressed their hope that the sides
would reach an agreement to jointly manage these water resources
for the benefit of the region.
6. It notes that the lack of regular maintenance work for over
twenty years on the Sarsang reservoir, located in one of the areas
of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia, poses a danger to the whole border
region. The Assembly emphasises that the state of disrepair of the
Sarsang dam could result in a major disaster with great loss of
human life and possibly a fresh humanitarian crisis.
In view of this urgent humanitarian problem, the Assembly
the immediate withdrawal
of Armenian armed forces from the region concerned, thus allowing:
7.1.1 access by independent engineers and hydrologists to carry
out a detailed on-the-spot survey;
7.1.2 global management, throughout the catchment area, of the
use and upkeep of the Sarsang water resources;
7.1.3 international supervision of the irrigation canals, the
state of the Sarsang and Madagiz dams, the schedule of water releases
during the autumn and winter, and aquifer overexploitation;
7.2 the Armenian authorities to cease using water resources
as tools of political influence or an instrument of pressure benefiting
only one of the parties to the conflict.
8. The Assembly firmly condemns the lack of co-operation of the
Armenian parliamentary delegation and the Armenian authorities during
the preparation of the report on this issue. The Assembly regards
such behaviour as incompatible with the obligations and commitments
of a country which is a full member of the Council of Europe. The
Assembly will consider what measures to take in this case and in
any similar cases which may arise during the terms of office of
9. The Assembly calls on all sides concerned to step up their
efforts to co-operate closely in the joint management of the resources
of the Sarsang water reservoir, as such co-operation can constitute
a confidence-building measure necessary for the solution of any