In September 2001, Iran formulated a letter of protest to the Secretary General of the United Nations in which it expressed its discomfort about a spatial water dispute with Afghanistan concerning the river Helmand. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, while focusing on the multidimensional interplay between biophysical, socioeconomic and geopolitical influences affecting both conflicting parties, this paper will investigate as to why the Iranian decision to express the protest took place. In this context, this paper will begin with a brief contextualisation of the importance of Helmand within its catchment area. Next, initial approaches towards establishing an institutional framework for this transboundary watershed and water related events that ultimately led to a culmination of the spatial water dispute between Afghanistan and Iran in 2001 will be chronologically outlined and scrutinised in light of the first analytical purpose of this paper. Second and with reference to the previous findings, this paper will argue that that the Iranian decision to formulate the letter of protest to the Secretary General of the United Nations was justified in terms of international law because Afghanistan did not fulfil its legal obligations as a riparian state of Helmand.
Transboundary Watersheds, International Law, Helmand, Sistan Basin, Afghanistan, Iran