December 10, 2016

Statement by Amb. Nicholas Emiliou – Water, Peace and Security

Security Council Open Debate on Water, Peace and Security

United Nations, 22 November 2016

Mr. President,

Cyprus aligns itself with the statement of the European Union and would like to add some remarks in its national capacity.

Allow me first to thank Senegal for organizing today’s open debate and for all the initiatives your country has taken in order to promote dialogue within the UN on issues of water, peace and security.

Climate change, the growing world population and urbanization have led to the increase of water scarcity and to problems of access to safe drinking water and sanitation, with significant repercussions on everyday life for people around the world.

Water access and management is also affected by conflict, with water access disruptions and the political exploitation of water issues being observed. Efforts to ensure control over water resources may also become a cause of conflict, as noted in the World Water Development Report of 2015.

Cyprus, being surrounded by water and having experienced drought and water scarcity many times throughout its history has a well informed and experienced view on the significance of good water management for sustainable development and for peace. We have successfully used innovation and technology as a method to address water shortages, with a state of the art desalination system. We stand stand ready to share our experience and our lessons learnt and to contribute to cooperation between countries, the interconnection between goals and targets of the Agenda and the overall implementation of Agenda 2030.

Mr. President,

We welcome the increasing focus of the UN on issues of water and sanitation. SDG 6 on availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all is a significant step by the international community in putting issues of water and sanitation at the forefront. The full implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change will have a siginificant effect on improving current problems of water scarcity and water management. We also recognise the positive contribution of the Plan of Action of the High-Level Panel on Water. We moreover support relevant activities and ongoing discussions within the UN aimed at promoting the better coordination and work of the UN system in an effort to better address water related challenges around the world.

In order to address water related issues and their links to conflict, there needs to be better understanding thereof. In this framework, we believe that the dimension of water related issues should be incorporated in conflict prevention, where relevant. We also appreciate the contribution of the High-Level Panel on water and peace.

Protection of International Humanitarian Law during armed conflict cannot be stressed enough. In this framework, we find it important to further study in depth the interlinkages between conflict, access to water and sanitation and violations of International humanitarian Law, in order to allow for the better promotion of IHL.

Furthermore, it is our strong belief that water can become a source of stability and peace. As such, we find crucial the promotion of transboundary agreements on water management and the promotion of water-related confidence building measures. Such agreements and measures should be carefully built on provisions that will be for the benefit of all countries involved with no winners or losers. They should also be promoted with a strong focus on ownership by the concerned states or parties.

In closing, allow me to reiterate our support for today’s debate and express the belief that it will provide useful guidance as to the further development of this important matter within the UN.

I thank you.