The attached text been prepared for two reasons:
1) To prevent an out-of-court settlement of this, the FIRST ENVIRONMENTAL
LAWSUIT before the International Court of Justice and
2) To energize world public opinion in defending the unique and ancient
We have only 3 months, before the lawsuit starts in The Hague. Please help to
spread the information contained in the attached article.
Best regards: Bela Liptak
In 1992, Slovakia diverted her border river with Hungary, onto her own
territory and thereby destroyed Hungary's wetlands, while keeping the
generated electricity to herself.
Starting on the 17th of February, 1997, the International Court of
Justice will set a precedent by deciding, if nation states can do as they
please with their rivers, or if mankind also has some rights, when the
ecosystems of the planet are treatened.
On June 20, 1995 the Court accepted the first "amicus curiae"
(friends of the court) filing on behalf of nine environmental and human
rights NGOs, which are demanding the restoration of the ecosystem. This gives
us a ray of hope that AFTER the precedent setting Danube lawsuit, a body of
international law might evolve, which will protect, not only our rivers, but
the natural environment as a whole.
Visit to the Construction Sight
On the 24th of October, 1996, I toured the complete dam system and found the
The Szigetkoz wetland region has dried up, the fish has died out,
the fishing birds have left and the vegetation, which survived since the last
Ice Age, is dyeing. The rerouting of the river into a concrete sealed canal
has cut out the "lung of the river." As a result, the water's dissolved
oxygen content has plummeted and consequently, the river is no longer able to
digest the sewage, which is dumped into the Danube at Bratislava and
The original Danube riverbed has been converted into a stagnant
and polluted reservoir, due to the construction of a bottom weir at
Dunakiliti. By blocking the natural flow of the river, the pollutants are
further concentrated plus viral and bacterial growth is enhanced. As a
consequence, the drinkingwater supplies of Budapest, (which are obtained from
the Danube), have become unhealthy.
Many residents of the villages, which the canal has cut off from
the outside world, have left the region. In the school of Bodiki (Bodajk),
there are only 14 students left. In these isolated and dyeing settlements,
only the old remain.
The hydroelectric powerplant at Gabcikovo (Bos) is still unable
to pass ice in the winter. While last year, this problem contributed to the
halting of shipping for several months, the potential consequences are much
more grave: After a cold winter, if the sudden melting of the ice coincides
with strong winds, the ice can be piled into a mountain pushing against the
ten story tall dam and endanger thousands of lives, if the dam fails to hold
against the immense pressure.
The construction of the dam at Cunovo (Dunacsun) is in
progress. As the parties are not supposed to change the conditions at the
sight until the verdict is handed down, this is an obvious attempt to
confront the Court with a fait accompli. This construction should therefore
be halted. Yet, the finalization of the "C-variant" continues and is now
about 30% complete.
What Will The Court Rule On?
The verbal presentation will start on the 17th of February, 1997 and the
ruling is expected by May. The Court will decide on four questions:
1) Was it legal for Slovakia to divert the water of the Danube onto its
2) Was it legal for Slovakia to build the "C-variant" (the facility, which
diverted the river)?
3) Did the cancellation of the 1977 contract by Hungary make the contract
4) Did Hungary have the right to terminate the construction at Nagymaros?
Of the above four questions, the critical one is 3). If Hungary can prove
that the 1977 contract was invalid from the outset, she did not cancel a
valid contract and she will win the case 4:0. To that end, Hungary can use
the following arguments:
a) The 1947 Paris Peace Treaty requires that Hungary and Slovakia obtain the
approval of the Great Powers prior to signing any contract or agreement, that
would, in any way, effect their borders. No such approval has been requested
b) The UN Charter declares that international contracts or agreements are
automatically invalid, if they are obviously one-sided.
c) One of the parties to the contract (Czechoslovakia) no longer exists.
d) The contract was signed under similar outside pressure (by the Soviet
Union) as was the Warsaw Pact, which since been annulled.
If the Court rules in Hungary's favor, the two nations will have 6 months to
come up with a detailed agreement, which will implement the Court's ruling. A
plan for such a detailed agreement has been submitted to the International
Court by the Foundation to Protect the Hungarian Environment and is outlined
The Compromise Plan
This plan would return the Danube into its natural riverbed by eliminating
the temporary Cunovo (Dunacsun) dam, the C-variant, and by starting up the
Dunakiliti dam. Gabcikovo (Bos) would be made safe by providing it with ice
handling capability. Shipping would be guaranteed through both the natural
riverbed and through the canal. The various parties would benefit from the
Compromise Plan as follows:
Hungary would regain her border river, her wetlands in the Szigetkoz and her
drinking water supplies. She would receive all the electricity generated at
Dunakiliti, which could be used to fulfill her obligations to Austria.
Slovakia would receive all the electricity generated at Gabcikovo (Bos). When
the flow in the river is low, Gabcikovo (Bos) would not generate electricity,
but shipping would still continue on the otherwise stagnant canal. On a
yearly average, Slovakia would still receive the same amount of electricity,
as if she got 50% of the total potential of the jointly owned border river.
In addition, Slovakia would retain her port at Bratislava and would end up
with a safe facility at Gabcikovo (Bos).
The European Community would benefit from reliable, year-around shipping
through both the Gabcikovo (Bos) canal and through the natural Danube
riverbed, by the addition of a second, larger lock at Dunakiliti. The EC
would be expected to provide Slovakia with electricity during Gabcikovo's
The United States would demonstrate, that a just and non-violent "new world
order" is feasible and a permanent solution is possible with an investment,
which is equivalent of the cost of a few weeks of peace-keeping in Bosnia.
The World would save and return into its original state, one of the planet's
richest ecosystems which has survived since the last Ice Age. In addition, a
legal pprecedentwould be established, showing that rivers and wetland regions
are not the properties of nations, but are the common treasures of all
The Region would benefit, not only by the restoration of its agriculture and
drinking water supplies, but also by receiving thousands of jobs during the
reconstruction of the dam system, and later through ecotourism. From Hainburg
to Gonyu, the region would become an international nature preservation park,
operated as an "European Free Zone", where all residents (Austrians,
Hungarians, and Slovaks), could freely travel or take jobs. This sense of
regional community and interdependence could later become the catalyst for a
wider reconciliation in Central Europe.
If you support this plan, please express your support by writing to:
The Honorable Mohammed Bedjaoui
President of the International Court of Justice
Carnegieplein 2, 2517 KJ, Den Haag, The Netherlands
prof. Bila Liptak, November 11, 1996
84 Old N. Stamford Road, Stamford, CT 06905-3961
Tel: 203-357-7614, Fax: 203-325-3922, e-mail:
The writer is the editor of the "Environmental Engineers' Handbook" and
president of the Foundation to Protect the Hungarian Environment.