A joint KHRP-Corner House Press Release:
Iraq Denies Approving Ilisu Dam: Germany, Switzerland and Austria in Potential Violation of International Law
Minister of Water, Dr Latif Rashid, has strenuously denied giving
Iraq's blessing to the controversial Ilisu Dam, which Turkey plans to
build on the Tigris River .
The Minister's denial
contradicts previous assurances by Turkey and the Governments of
Germany, Switzerland and Austria, whose Export Credit Agencies (ECAs)
approved funding for the dam in March 2007 , on the basis that Iraq
had no objections to the dam.
If built, the dam could
severely impact on downstream flows of the Tigris, which could be
reduced to a trickle in summer months . Turkey has failed to
guarantee a minimum downstream flow to Iraq and Syria .
the ECAs made funding conditional on Turkey first supplying Iraq with
the information it sought on the project, the Minister told a joint
Kurdish Human Rights Project - Corner House fact-finding mission 
that key information had still to be provided.
"The ECAs have
breached their own conditions", says Nicholas Hildyard, who interviewed
Iraq's Minister of Water. "Iraq made known its objections at the
highest level. The ECAs appear to have ignored them."
that Turkey, Iraq and Syria came to an agreement over the project at a
joint meeting in March 2007 are rejected by Iraq. "All that was agreed
was a framework for future talks", the Minister told the fact-finding
"The ECAs have set a dangerous precedent that
undermines international law, the environment and human rights", says
Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of KHRP. "Under international law,
Turkey is obliged to inform, consult and negotiate with Iraq and Syria
over any dams it plans on shared rivers."
A legal opinion
commissioned by WEED, a German non-governmental organisation, suggests
that, by funding the dam before such negotiations have taken place the
ECA could be held to have facilitated a violation of international law.
[Kurdish Language Sorani Version pdf]
Scheduled for construction on the River Tigris, some 65 kilometres from
the Syrian border, the 1200 Megawatt (MW) Ilisu Dam is Turkey's largest
planned hydroelectric project. It will cost an estimated 2 billion
 The three participating Export Agencies are: Austria's
ECA Oesterreichische Kontrollbank - OeKB (200 million Euro), Germany's
EulerHermes (93,5 million Euros in addition to some100 million Euro in
re-insurance for OeKB) and Switzerland's SERV (225 million CHF = 140 million Euros.
 Ilisu is to be built in conjunction with a second dam at Cizre.
Unlike Ilisu, which is solely for hydroelectric generation, Cizre is
intended for irrigation and will therefore divert water from the
An independent analysis of the two dams by hydrologists Philip Williams
and Associates has concluded: "The operation of the Ilisu Dam in
combination with diversions from the future downstream Cizre project
would probably significantly reduce summer flows in Syria and Iraq
below historic levels. . . It is even possible that with full
implementation of the Ilisu/Cizre projects, during drought periods, all
the summer flows could be diverted before it crossed the border."
 Although the ECAs have required that Turkey commit to a minimum
downstream flow of 60 cubic metres per second, the condition only
applies immediately downstream of the Ilisu Dam itself. There is no
requirement to ensure such a release at the border, 65 kilometres
 The full Fact Finding Mission's report - The Ilisu Dam: Downstream
Water Impacts and Iraq – is available from this website (see the