Delegates in the SPECPOL committee session move to yet another unmoderated caucus as no working papers for the Topic of Addressing the Problems of Water Scarcity go to the floor.
By TIA TUIBURELEVU, THE NEW YORK TIMES
BOSTON 11.00am- It was always going to be difficult for SPECPOL to resolve the problems of water scarcity. It’s a complex issue at the intersection the environment, health, human rights, and poverty in a giant web that is often too difficult to detangle. While we accept that not every issue can be adequately addressed, evading the core issues is undesirable.
The Great Ball Room was remarkably empty as almost all the delegates huddled in the lobby area arguing what they perceived the issue(s) to be. At 11am, during committee session three, not one draft resolution was tabled. By 11.10am three motions to have a moderated caucus to discuss working papers were voted down. Yet another unmoderated caucus began and the committee room emptied out.
The Times editorial board believes critical discussion on complex matters is absolutely necessary. It is vital that states debate and analyze conflicting ideas to reach sound resolutions. The problem with the committee, at present, is that in trying to solve everything they effectively solve nothing–and time is of the essence. Round-about discussions with the same spiel that ‘water is a human right’ and ‘water scarcity is an issue’ moves the committee nowhere. By this point many delegations from diverse regional blocs have grown anxious that the committee was not actually solving the core problems they are required to do.
The committee is broadly tasked with ‘addressing the problems of water scarcity.’ One a finer note, matters regarding geopolitics, trans-boundary conflict, hydro-control, and current legal instruments are meant to be their primary concerns . As one delegate from the Scandinavian bloc noted, too many states are focussing on proposing technological solutions rather than addressing what happens where conflict arises as a result of water scarcity. This means discussion should center on trans-boundary water courses and hydro-hegemony between states. The delegate from Benin echoed these concerns, arguing that many are trying to find innovative ways to produce more water. This is opposed to actually addressing the key security concern when a country takes a monopoly on the water supply disenfranchising neighboring states. The water is there, it’s just not being shared equally.
Firstly, the committee needs to shift its focus from technological advancements to conflict and security. As the delegate from Samoa lamented, too many delegates suggest ideas for short term infrastructure as opposed to considering what will happen to the environment in 50 years time. This is of particular importance to smaller island nations and developing states whose water scarcity is a result of both climate change and unequal bargaining power with other states.
Secondly, more robust attention must be paid to the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses and the 2004 Berlin Rules. If the committee wants to resolve water insecurity, then they can only begin by improving current legal instruments. As the delegate from Colombia noted, these are incredibly contentious when addressing trans-boundary water courses yet have had little to no air time on the floor.
With little time left to find a solution, it would pay for the delegates to take a step back and revise the six questions the resolution requires them to answer.