The Sarsang reservoir in Upper Karabakh: politicization of an environmental challenge in the framework of a territorial dispute

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This paper explores the dispute between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Upper Karabakh with regard to the Sarsang reservoir and the associated water management by the latter. After illustrating the politicization of the environmental challenge by recent hostile initiatives taken by the parties, the article points out the lack of reliable statistics on water usage and needs for riparian countries. It highlights the matter of associated semantics as well as the poor commitments of these countries with regard to international water conventions. Finally, the paper suggests that the water issue could be disconnected from the political conflict and discusses the possibility to capitalize on past similar transboundary water issues to overcome the obstacles. It concludes on a possible process for relevant international technical committees to embark upon a separate water-related mediation based on water needs as a ‘public good’.

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