Joint statement: Water should not be used as a weapon of war

Published on Tuesday, 11th of October 2022

Side-event ‘Value of Water in Times of Armed Conflicts’ was attended by Elina Häkkinen (Aalto University), Maruan El-Krekshi (CMI), Saule Ospanova (OSCE), Cholpon Aitakhunova (Central Asia Youth for Water CAY4W), Omar El Hattab (Unicef) and Mara Tignino (Geneva Water Hub). Antti Rautavaara from Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland ja Suvi Sojamo from Finnish Environment Institute were hosting the discussion. Photo: Aku Suoknuuti

Water and sanitation should never be used as a means of warfare, emphasize the experts of various organisations during the Stockholm World Water Week 2022.

Water can be a source or driver of conflict. Joint statement of various expert organisations, signed also by CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, addresses the role of water and sanitation during conflicts.

The expert opinion statement has been composed to be considered at the United Nations Water Conference held in New York in March 2023. Behind the opinion statement are the organisers of the “Value of Water in Times of Armed Conflicts” side-event that took place at the Stockholm World Water Week in August.

The expert statement highlights the importance of water amidst conflicts as well as in conflict prevention. In spite of the humanitarian, legal and political consensus, water resources and infrastructure are often strategic targets for conflict parties.

“Vulnerable groups such as women, children, youth, and persons with disabilities, are usually the most affected by destruction of infrastructure, disruption of water, sanitation and hygiene services”, the statement notes.

The joint statement also underlines weaknesses and gaps in international frameworks and practices.

Read the complete expert opinion and its key messages here.