Amro Selim: The Security Council faces a serious challenge to resolve water conflicts in the MENA region

The Security Council faces a serious challenge to resolve water conflicts in the MENA region



By Amro Selim: (chairman of Elmoustkbal Future for Media and Strategic Studies – member in the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice).


Residents of the Middle East and North Africa region face a serious crisis on the doorstep, which is the scarcity of water resources, which is expected to lead to an acute water crisis, followed immediately by a food crisis hitting the peoples of the region, which will leave large-scale famines that come on the green and land, as well as chaos in various Areas of life may be followed by widespread conflicts and violence. The Security Council must urgently and definitively intervene to carry out its main mission to maintain international peace and security, before things develop out of control and the region becomes a real threat to the whole world.

Water refugees

 Recently, the International Water Management Institute warned that climate changes in North Africa and the Middle East will cause more water stress for that region, and it has already reached 61%, which will have social, economic and political impacts, as well as very serious security, and the Institute stressed that the main reason The migration of 90% of the population of the Middle East is water scarcity, while the FAO has noted that water shortages will cause economic losses estimated at 6 to 14% of the gross domestic product of the countries of the region during the year 2050, which is the highest in the world.

The water crisis comes to affect the food security of the countries of the region, where it is likely to be followed by an acute food crisis, as studies expected a wave of internal migration and asylum due to the lack of water and food, to ring the danger bell to warn of crises, but disasters about to attack the Middle East and North Africa, which In turn, it will lead to major waves of displacement and asylum for citizens affected by the lack of water and food, and the devastating conflicts and dangerous violence that this will cause not only the region but the whole world.

We may not forget that there is a strong relationship between water scarcity, food and industrial instability, livelihood and migration, as well as conflicts and disputes. Therefore, managing water more efficiently limits migration and regional conflicts that may generate violence, and the Mediterranean region owns only 3% of Global water resources, although it is inhabited by approximately 180 million people, including 50% of the world's poor, and 60% of the population of the Middle East and North Africa live in areas of severe water stress, if the current rates of agricultural land degradation continue, another 8.3 million hectares will be lost Of agricultural land by 2020, average water availability in the Middle East and North Africa is only 1,200 cubic meters annually.

Water wars

The World Bank confirms that the Middle East and North Africa region is one of the most tense regions in the world with regard to the unsustainable use of water. About 82% of the water in this region is not being used effectively and efficiently, despite the increase in demand for water and weak supply, as it witnesses the region The largest economic losses expected from climate-related water scarcity, which is estimated at around 6-14% of GDP by 2050, and the total water productivity in the region is only about half of the global average, as the region threatens flood and drought crises significantly, especially the North African regions of Lundara In its water resources, and in an indication of the need for cooperation between these countries to face this serious crisis, the countries of the region share at least one groundwater reservoir, which highlights the importance of cooperative management of shared water resources, which also indicates that the conflicts and conflicts that the region may witness in the future The near will be the main reason for its establishment, control of water resources and access to water.

The Middle East and North Africa region is considered one of the most regions of the world that witnesses water stress. For example, Yemen has an average per capita share of pure water 198 cubic meters per person, while Gaza is one of the most severe cases of water scarcity in the world, where the per capita share falls to about 320 cubic meters Of water, and the crisis increased in the region in recent years until it witnessed an average drop in the rate of water availability by 25%, and by 2025 it is possible that the average water availability is barely above 500 cubic meters per person, knowing that about 90% of the population of the region live in countries that suffer From water scarcity, for example, Yemeni farmers have increased the depths of the wells on which they live by about 50 meters during the past twelve years, while the amount of water they receive has decreased by two thirds, causing violent confrontations among them to obtain water, and the rate of water availability is expected to decrease By 30% by 2050, in parallel with the increase in population by twice by that period, which indicates an increase in the likelihood of "water wars" in the region in the near future, and this is confirmed by what actually happened in the Yemeni city of Taiz, which st Violent confrontations between citizens there in an attempt to control groundwater wells have led to peace, especially since the security and political conditions in Yemen are unstable and water is shared and controlled by customary primitive methods, and we do not forget the ongoing crisis between Egypt and Sudan on the one hand and Ethiopia on the other hand because of the construction of the recent dam Ennahdha, and the failure to reach a settlement with the two parties to the dispute over the rules for filling the dam, while in Libya the stock of drinking water decreased from about 149 to 101 water distribution channels due to its destruction due to security tensions, which caused the United Nations to warn against using water as a weapon of conflict between the parties Fighting there, and in the same context, the rate of water stress in Iraq reached 3.7 out of 5 according to the water stress index, to become one of the countries classified as having a "high risk" in relation to water scarcity, as the global index predicts that by 2040 the Tigris and Euphrates rivers will completely dry up. Thus, Iraq will suffer from drought and thirst.

Global interests

The stability of the region and the absence of new waves of refugees and displaced persons due to the water crisis - which are likely to be more powerful and fierce than the security crises in the region because it will affect the majority of the population and affect almost all their lives almost completely - are imperatives of the global interest in the first domain, so do not remedy it The world is facing a serious fateful challenge starting from new conflicts and the spread of diseases and epidemics, as well as a global economic crisis affecting all regions of the world without exception, without water life will stop and citizens will be forced to search for other areas to live in, which will increase the number of refugees in the region that have reached More than 10 million refugees, and crises, conflicts and violence that will affect the stability of the region will increase especially for the oil countries that will threaten that crisis from the continued flow of oil from it, and may cause high prices to record levels, and some can use the water crisis to ignite more tension in some countries of the region - Which are essentially full of conflict - so the American diplomatic move that is working towards a peaceful settlement preserves the rights of citizens to obtain their basic right to It does not have access to healthy drinking water, and contributing to devising means to preserve current water sources and rationalize their consumption and development will have a positive impact on American interests, and will also give a clear return in developing relations with the peoples of the region because the water issue represents one of the most important influences on the lives and current trends of citizens And futuristic.

The role of the Security Council

Since the Security Council bears the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, under the Charter of the United Nations, and it is assumed that all Member States are obligated to comply with the decisions of the Council, it is imperative that it take the lead in identifying the existence of a threat to peace or an aggressive act, and calls on the parties to the conflict to settle Conflict by peaceful means and recommends ways of adjustment or conditions for settlement, and in some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even allow the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security, which confirms the imperative necessity of the Council in urgent intervention to discuss the issue of water in the region and take It decided to avoid any potential conflicts in it, and to protect the region and the world from new waves of refugees and internally displaced persons that will result from this serious crisis.



The water scarcity crisis in the MENA region is one of the most important challenges facing its countries, and certainly the urgent and decisive Security Council action at the same time will contribute to confronting it in the ways guaranteed by the United Nations Charter and international laws, which will have a major impact in maintaining security and peace The global, and the method of dealing quickly and decisively with this crisis represents a real challenge to the effectiveness of the Security Council and the international system in facing grave risks across the world.






1- AMWAJ Forum, Barcelona, Spain, Oct 2018.

2- Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis, Human Development Report 2006, UNDP, 2006.

3- Beyond Scarcity: Water Security in the Middle East and North Africa, World Bank, AUGUST 23, 2017.

4- Solutions to water challenges in the Middle East and North Africa region, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 30 August 2018.

5-Water Management in Fragile Systems: Building Resilience to Shocks and Protracted Crises in the Middle East and North Africa, World Bank, AUGUST 28, 2018.