International law and construction of dams

The gap in international law about the construction of dams by countries and the opportunities facing the Kurdistan region

Arman Ayyub Ahmed Husseini

The gap in international law about the construction of dams by countries and the opportunities facing the Kurdistan region

Since the past till now, the construction of Dam has been considered as one of the greatest creations of human hands. Although dams play an important role in providing food, irrigation, electricity and economic and social development, however we should not ignore damaging environmental effects of this phenomenon. Today, due to the lack of international law and principles related to the international obedience of countries with the process of building dams, many countries, such as (Turkey and Iran), have built many dams within their own political geography by returning to the doctrine of full authority over water and land. Regardless of the environment and the problems facing neighboring countries, this action will lead to decline in water resources, continuous drought, forced migration, rise of dust phenomenon in neighboring countries, and ultimately international hostility and conflict.


Because of the life-saving role of water at all life’s stages and increasing population on earth, the water shortage crisis was expected, and specialists were frequently looking for plans and methods to control water. For years, dam construction has been used as a way to move, collect and stopping water. Dams have also played a significant role in human life to obtain electricity, and control floods and agriculture. The World Trade Organization established the "Dam Commission" in 1997 as a reaction to the rapid growth in dam construction. "The dams are being built to coexist among three elements of water, energy and human economic growth," the commission said in its reports on the dams. In addition to their significant role in human economic growth, dams should not look at their negative effects on the around environment, such as the extinction of fish.

The lack of international law and principles about countries' adherence to the environmental issue, traces of stopping river water behind dams, drying of rivers, water resources of neighboring countries, and the return of countries to doctrine of total authority over their water and land. According to the doctrine of absolute authority over Water and Land, which is established on an old and comprehensive basis, each state imposes complete and unlimited authority over its geography, regardless of consequences of building dams on the relevant countries. This doctrine is actually in the interest of sovereign countries of the rivers.

The one-sided and unlimited interference of the river's sovereign states through the construction of dams has a negative impact on the environment, particularly destruction of agricultural lands, increase ratio of unemployment and emergence of dust phenomenon. The continued disruption of construction of dams on one hand and the decline in water supply levels can lead international peace and even peace and stability in countries into insecurity.

The opportunities in front of Kurdistan region about dam’s construction

The Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey, due to dam construction have prevented a massive amount of water resources that flowing into Kurdistan Region (KR), which Kurdistan regional government (KRG) administration should consider it as a serious threat and try to build dams in order to be able to provide its needs and use it as a pressure card against Baghdad.

Apart from the oil career, which is not permanent and will end one day, due to weather and a fertile land the region owns 6 million, 619, 19 acres of lands which in condition of having a strong plan has ability to become one of the poles producing agricultural products and try to get people to go to the private sector and not wait for the government to provide them with government jobs.

The Kurdistan Region has 17 dams, three of them were built during the previous regime, and the 14 dams built by the KRG and they have the capacity to contain 31 million cubic metres of water. 57 dams that 21 dams have stopped working because of financial crisis and completing 8 dams requires only 10 billion dinars and 20 dams are only finished their designs and rest 16 even do not complete their designs. But according to the ministry of agriculture, there are suitable places to build these dams.

The three dams of the previous regime are Darbandikhan, Dukan and Duhok, which have capability of containing 10 billion cubic metres of water. In addition, according to experts, the Kurdistan Region needs 15 to 20 billion cubic metres of water which can save this amount of water through 350 small, medium and large dams. The region has another key problem, namely the electricity problem, which can produce electricity by building dams and compensate the lack of electricity.

Viewer 180