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Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Dam

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Submitted By maria13
Words 1123
Pages 5
Mary Williams
February 14, 2013
International Law II – Welling Hall
Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Dam

On September 16, 1977, we, the People’s Republic of Hungary signed onto the Budapest Treaty with, then, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic to initiate a large barrage project on an international watercourse, the Danube River. It was mutually understood that this project would improve shipping access and river navigability, reduce flooding, and produce much needed clean hydropower for both nation states. This project was an exciting endeavor to improve economic development in both our countries through the utilization of our shared watercourse. However, soon after work began on the project in 1978, new evidence emerged that there would be massive environmental consequences to the Danube because of the construction and operation of the System of Locks. The general public of Hungary held strong opposition to the continuation of the project as a direct response to environmental protection concerns. After several years of negotiations, we, the People’s Republic of Hungary, suspended our work on the project in 1989, eventually terminating the treaty in 1992, in the recognition that the environmental devastation would be too adverse to justify the potential economic development to be gained from the project.

Slovakia, despite their knowledge of the potential and probable environmental devastation, unilaterally constructed and put into operation a modified system called “Variant C.” This new project, which did not reflect the terms of the Budapest Treaty of 1977, drastically reduced the flow of the Danube River, a shared resource, downstream, greatly interfering with an international watercourse, and in turn, affecting our State’s interest in the project. While Slovakia has invested many resources into the project, and has placed understandable importance on the electricity gained through the creation of the new power plant, they have in fact placed more value on access to economic development for the present generation of their nation state, with blatant disregard for the devastation of the environment for their future generations, the country of Hungary, and our posterity.

We, the People’s Republic of Hungary, find ourselves seeking consultation alongside the Slovak Republic at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to defend our justifiable termination of the Budapest Treaty under rebus sic stantibus. The overwhelming evidence that the barrage project proposed in the treaty is likely to produce ecological damage of many varieties, such as harm to the river bank, flora and fauna, damage to fish breeding and surface water quality, damage to groundwater, agriculture, forestry and soil, and deterioration of the quality of drinking water reserves as well as sedimentation. These irreversible environmental impacts were not apparent at the initiation of the treaty, but have become evident since, creating a fundamental change of circumstances, allowing the treaty to become inapplicable. They demonstrate unsustainable development. The People’s Republic of Hungary also insists that the creation of the Variant C project by the Slovak Republic was a clear exploitation of an internationally shared water resource – the Danube. Furthermore, this action had a significant devastating impact on both international economical development and environmental quality for the generations of today and the future.

We, the People’s Republic of Hungary, ask that the court look to the principle of sustainable development in regards to the problems surrounding the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Dam that have been brought before you: It is inherent to the treaty under international law, that both countries involved would take seriously the necessity to balance the demands of economic development and environmental protection under good faith. We understand the necessity and the entitlement of both nation states to develop and further the welfare of their peoples. Likewise, we recognize that this should not be done with disregard to the entitlement of trusteeship and protection of the (shared) environmental resources. Article 15 of the Budapest Treaty requires the signatory parties ensure that the water quality of the Danube would not be impaired by the project. By suspending and eventually terminating our work on this project, we, the nation state of Hungary, were not in breach of contract, but were in fact fulfilling our obligations stated in the treaty to “ensure compliance with the obligations for the protection of nature arising in connection with the construction and operation of the System of Locks.”

Principles from both the Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment of 1972, and from the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development of 1992 are pertinent to the case of the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Dam. Principle 2 of the Stockholm declaration states, “The natural resources of the earth… must be safeguarded for the benefit of present and future generations through careful planning and management…” Additionally, principle 4 of the Stockholm Declaration states “Nature conservation, including wildlife, must therefore receive importance in planning for economic development.” To have stayed a party to the treaty would to have gone against the protection of the environmental and economic development of both today and future generations. Economic development, which disregards and adversely affects the environment is not sustainable development, but instead meets some of the needs of the present generation at the sacrifice of both the environment and posterity.

Furthermore, we site principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration, which states that “States have… the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.” The People’s Republic of Hungary took seriously our responsibility towards other sovereignties (in this instance, Slovak Republic) by ceasing to be a party towards a transnational environmentally detrimental project. Likewise, it should be noted that the Slovak Republic’s continuance with the Variant C project was in direct violation of principles of international law in regards to their obligations to not cause environmental damage to other sovereigns. In 1992, the sentiment of principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration was reiterated in principle 2 of the Rio Declaration.

In light of the significant transnational environmental damage caused by Slovakia’s construction of Variant C project, through blatant disregard of the internationally recognized precautionary approach (principle 15, Rio Declaration), we the People’s Republic of Hungary request that the ICJ find that not only were we justified in our termination of our role in the Budapest Treaty, but that Slovakia should be held accountable for their role in the aforementioned treaty and Variant C project by compensating Hungary for our loss of environment, as stated under principle 22 of the Stockholm Declaration: “States shall cooperate to develop further the international law regarding liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage caused by activities within the jurisdiction or control of such States to areas beyond their jurisdiction.”…...

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