STATEMENT on opposing a potential environmental catastrophe with detrimental effects on both human beings and the planet

The civil society organizations of a number of countries have issued a statement to oppose a potential environmental catastrophe with detrimental effects on both human beings and the planet over construction of the metallurgical plant in Arazdayan, News.Az reports. 

The statement in particular says:

“As Civil Society organizations, we, the undersigned, are issuing a collective statement expressing our opposition and deep concern to the construction of a sizable metallurgical plant. This Armenian-American steel plant covers an expansive area of 16,500 square meters and is expected to have an annual production capacity of 180,000 tons is proposed to be built in the village of Arazdayan (Yeraskh), located on the border between Armenia and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan. Regrettably, this project will contribute to a new environmental disaster, and thus we stand united in our concerns.

The establishment of this large-scale metallurgical plant blatantly disregards internationally recognized standards and principles, especially those articulated in the UN Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention). The Espoo Convention acknowledges that environmental matters transcend national borders and emphasizes the necessity of international discourse when multiple states are involved in specific cases. The construction of such a facility on the border without mutual agreement from the Azerbaijani side constitutes a blatant violation of the 1991 Espoo Convention, which addresses the assessment of environmental impact in transboundary contexts. Both Azerbaijan and Armenia are signatories to this Convention. In accordance with the Espoo Convention, a thorough evaluation of the plant's environmental impact must be conducted. The assessment document related to the construction should be reviewed by relevant Azerbaijani institutions, eco-activists considering the opinion of the neighboring Azerbaijani residents living in close proximity to the region.

The construction of such a factory harms people or the planet and marks a red line for civil society, given its far-reaching implications and the threat it poses to human health, the environment and true sustainability.

The potential repercussions of the metallurgical plant's toxic chemical waste on the local ecosystem are significant. This environmental impact will definitely affect human health and safety, flora, fauna, soil, air and water structures.

The alarming possibility of this waste being discharged into the Araz river raises concerns for the wildlife inhabiting the river and the large farms relying on Araz water for irrigation. Damage to drinking water supply is the damage to human health and water safety which can lead to spread of infectious diseases in border villages. Potentially it can create a serious public health crisis for both Azerbaijan and Armenia.

According to the political declaration of high-level meeting on UHC, the Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 October 2019, notes that health is a precondition for and an outcome and indicator of the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN Member states recognized environmental determinants of health, such as clean air, safe drinking water, and sanitation . The UN recognizes a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a fundamental human right. However, by committing these environmental crimes, Armenia grossly violates the human rights of Azerbaijan population, including the region. Armenia completely violates this resolution, being in the opposite position to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the 3rd goal on good health and well-being, the 6th goal on clean water and sanitation, the 13th goal on combating the consequences of climate change, and the 15th goal on protecting the soil ecosystem.

Moreover, The Aarhus Convention plays a vital role in fostering access to information, public participation, and justice in environmental matters. As a signatory to this convention, Armenia must fulfill its obligations by ensuring that affected communities have access to information regarding plant activities, meaningful participation in decision-making processes, and avenues for seeking redress in case of environmental harm. We demand Armenia to create an enabling environment for civil society organizations and local communities to actively engage in dialogue and decision-making processes related to the building of the sizable steel plant.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide a crucial framework for promoting responsible conduct in business, including the extractive industry. These principles underscore the need for companies to uphold human rights, prevent adverse environmental impacts, and engage with affected communities in a transparent and inclusive manner. We urge all stakeholders involved in metallurgical plant building in Arazdayan to align their actions with these principles and integrate them into their operational practices.

In light of this, we call upon relevant international organizations such as the UN Environment Program, the World Health Organization, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Environment, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Harmful Substances and Human Rights to respond to this situation and put an end to Armenia's ongoing environmental transgressions.

We also call the United States of America to acknowledge these risks and cease its support for the construction of the aforementioned metallurgical plant in Arazdayan.

Furthermore, we urge civil society organizations in Armenia, particularly those actively involved in public health and tuberculosis advocacy, to take immediate action and protest against the establishment of this plant. Its construction will undoubtedly have a profoundly negative impact on Armenia's own environmental situation, too.

Signatures:

1.Maryam Danesh, Washington and lee University, United States of America

2.Sameer Sah, TB Civil Society Consultant, United Kingdom

3.Ezio Távora dos Santos Filho, REDE-TB, Brasil

4.Umarov Rustamjon, environmental activist, graduate student at Hiroshima University, Japan

5.José María Di Bello, Fundación GEP, Argentina

6.Svetlana Doltu, NGO AFI, Republic of Moldova

7.Olha Klymenko, CO “TBPeopleUkraine”, Ukraine

8.Inna Gavrylova, APH (Alliance for Public Health), Ukraine

9.Sergey Uchayev, RNGO “ISHONCH VA HAYOT”, Uzbekistan

10.Nikoloz Mirzashvili, Network TBpeople Sakartvelo, Georgia

11.Sok Chamreun Choub, Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance (KHANA), Cambodia

12.Stephen Anguva Shikoli - Network of TB Champions Kenya

13.Collins Major Kinyuru - Pamoja TB group, Kenya

14.Joseph Kilonzo - BISC, Kenya

15.Elchin Mukhtarli, Azerbaijan TB NGO Coalition

16.Peter Ngola, Wote Youth Development Projects CBO, Kenya

17.Charles Quist, Carepal foundation Ghana

18.Parvana Valiyeva, “Saglamliga Khidmat” Public Union, Azerbaijan

19.Chingiz Ramazanli, TBpeople, “Towards TB Free Future”, Azerbaijan

20.Prof.Dr.Zeki Kilichaslan, “İstanbul Verem savas dernegi”, Turkey

21.Dr. Şemsettin Küzeci, President of Kirkuk Cultural Association. Türkiye

22.Abass A Kamara from Sierra Leone I am A volunteer from Sierra Leone Red Cross Society

23.Mohmad Husain lone from Jammu kashmir, India Human Rights activist official volunteer of international Human Rights Commission, Switzerland.

24.Cordelia Adamu.Africa Environmental and Health Advancement Network.Nigeria

25.Germain Marius HAPY, Diplomate, Président OSER Humanitarian, Switzerland/Cameroon

26.Norman Kagiso Matiting, TB people, Botswana

27.Nishant Chavan, Independent Public Health Consultant, India

28.Filiz Duyar Ağca, Türk Toraks Derneği, TB Working Group, Turkey

29.Hasim Abdul Halim, Department of Health and family welfare, India

30.Kinz Eman, Stop TB Partnership Pakistan, Pakistan

31.Zeeshan Ahmad, Provincial TB Control (PTP) Punjab, Pakistan

32.Mohmad Hossain, Institute of Allergy and Clinical Immunology of Bangladesh (IACIB), Bangladesh”.

News.Az 


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