Turkey's Gap Project from the Perspective of International Water Law

Document Type : Original Article


Teaching assistant at the Faculty of Law, University of Aleppo, Syria



The Turkish government has had the greatest impact on the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers by implementing huge development projects through the construction of large-scale dams under the Southeast Anatolia Development Project (GAP) and this has affected the access and use of Tigris and Euphrates rivers in other countries. On the other hand, the division and distribution of the water of these two rivers have been regulated with few and basic treaty provisions. Turkey refuses to recognize the international nature of these rivers and considers these rivers as national rivers; however, Syria and Iraq consider these rivers as international rivers and this has led to conflicts between the countries on the banks of these rivers.This article focuses on the effects of the GAP project, especially the effect of the Atatürk Dam and Ilisu Dam on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and examines theircompliance with international law, including existing international treaty law and customary principles of international water law. The research utilizes library-documentary sources and employs a descriptive and analytical approach. It is concluded that the effects on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are against the aforecited rules and laws. These effects lead to the violation of the principle of non-harmful utilization of territory, as well as the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization.


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