At the UN, Pakistan denounced any use of water as an ‘instrument of coercion and war’ while asserting that access to water was a fundamental right that must be protected at all times, says a press release received here on Wednesday from New York.

While speaking in the Open Debate of the Security Council on “Water, Peace and Security”, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi stressed that, “Pakistan denounces any such practice, real or threatened, as we believe it to be inconsistent with the precepts of international humanitarian law.”

She described the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, between Pakistan and India, with the World Bank as guarantor, as “ a model of what can be achieved through bilateral agreements”.

Earlier the Secretary General in his address to the Council also cited this treaty as an example of positive cooperation.

But, Ambassador Lodhi said, this treaty is equally a good case study of what could go wrong if such agreements are not honored or threatened by one of the state parties to be abrogated altogether. She urged the international community to remain vigilant to any sign of unwillingness to maintain cooperation and be willing act to avert any conflict.

Pakistan also called on the international community to ensure that States remain willing to resolve water issues cooperatively and ensure that bilateral and multilateral arrangements are not undermined through unilateral or coercive measures.

She called on the world body to develop, nurture and protect normative frameworks, at multilateral and bilateral levels on waterways.

Ambassador Lodhi said that if the United Nations wishes to maintain international peace and security, it must strive to find ways to ensure two things: One, that Member States remain willing to share water resources peacefully and cooperatively; and, two, that Member States’ willingness to resolve such issues are not constrained by any lack of capacity.

Speaking on the second aspect, about the Member States’ ability to cooperate on water issues, the Pakistani envoy said that this would depend on a number of factors, which may be technical, financial or political. She said that there were several international institutions that can address the technical or financial needs for developing and sustaining cooperation in water sharing among States.

Ambassador Lodhi reminded the 15-member Council that the only international body that can enhance Member States’ political ability to cooperate is the Security Council.

She said that it is the Security Council’s responsibility to resolve international conflicts and disputes, especially longstanding, prolonged conflicts, in particular in Asia and Africa. “Unburdened by conflicts of the past, new challenges can then be addressed cooperatively and comprehensively”, she added.

She concluded by asking the UN to send a strong message to the world of its commitment to maintain cooperation in the face of water scarcity. That message should also convey that “We will respect and protect our existing understandings and build where they are yet to be reached.” And that this challenge does not put international peace and security at risk”, she added.