Delta Force

Ukraine started a navigable canal through the middle of Danube Delta UNESCO Reservation putting at risk the whole biosphere * Ukraine and Romanian civil societies mobilized against this destructive project * The pro-Russian President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma inaugurated the first part of the canal Bystroe in August 2004 * Solidarity for the Danube Delta erupted in Romania's Capital * Bucharest was covered on 24th of August by the anti-Bystroe march organized by the Romanian civil society * Over 150 organizations that supported the initiative of ZIUA daily and Civic Media Association created the Coalition for the Danube Delta and asked Ukraine to immediately stop work at Bystroe canal * Their appeal was send to US, EU, Russia and Ukraine's high representatives * US State Department warned again Ukraine to hold the project * EU pay increased attention to the situation at the Danube mouths * The Ramsar Convention accuses Ukraine of breaking its international commitments * Romania officially requests an investigation at an international level * Moldavian ecologist staged also a protest in front of Ukraine Embassy in Chisinau on 21st of September * The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River and the main international environment organizations with consultative status at UE reunited in Geneva also on September 21st and asked Ukrainian authorities to stop building operations on Bystroe canal at once * International organizations asked for postponing the second stage of the project till a thorough study on the ecological consequences of this project would have been elaborated * The Geneva reunion also asked for permanent monitoring on the environment impact of the project's first stage * Starting on 23d of September, Ukraine entered several times with military ships into the Romanian territorial waters on the Danube branch of Chilia and attacked Romanian border Police * In the same time, in Ukraine, the state authorities went on threatening the director of the Danube Reservation and tried to discourage the Ukrainian NGOs fighting for saving the Delta * The European Commission asked officially Ukraine to stop the project launched in Danube Delta * After a long fight, democracy finally wins in Ukraine with the election of the democratic president Viktor Yushhcenko * Soon after, at the end of the last year, Romania has the same luck and Traian Basescu wins the Presidency putting and end to the regime of Ion Iliescu, a comrade of Leonid Kuchma * Ukrainian and Romanian civil society wrote this January open letters to the new democratic power asking to act decisively and stop the construction of the destructive canal in the Danube Delta * Over 43 000 people from 90 countries signed a Romanian World Wide Group electronic petition at

Romanian Civil Society asks president Yushchenko for justice in the Delta

Your Excellency,

The Ukrainian Government and the German construction company Moebius Bau AG started this year the construction of a deep navigation channel through the heart of Ukraine's portion of the Danube Delta Bilateral Biosphere Reserve. The first phase of this project was finished on August 24, 2004. According to numerous international organizations this channel will affect not only Ukraine and Romania environment and wild life, but also a large number of European, Mediterranean, Eurasian, and African countries. These various countries are Parties to a number of different international treaties, conventions, and agreements with Ukraine, all those international agreements aimed at protecting the natural environment and wild life.

This project lacked any transboundary assessment and public participation. At the same time, this project was made possible by a decree issued by the former Ukraine President, Leonid Kuchma. This decree arbitrary modified the borders of Ukraine's Danube Delta Natural Reservations. Eco-Pravo Lviv charged this decree in an attempt to restore one of the most important natural reservations in Ukraine.

According to scientists at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Danube Delta, where the river enters the Black Sea, is "the most important wetland area in Europe." It is also "the largest interconnected reed-bed in the world," the home to 325 species of birds and 75 species of fish, several of both listed in species Red Books and threatened with extinction, including here more than 70% of the world's white pelican population. The estuaries are important biological environments in that they form the spawning ground for many economically valuable marine species. The Danube Delta has been recognized as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1995 and was internationally recognized as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program in 1998.

During the last year, basically all the international organizations covering the issue of environmental protection expressed their concerns towards the Ukrainian project of Bystroi channel.

At least, but not the last, the construction of Bystroi channel has a profound geopolitical meaning which is bound to the interests of the New Russia with imperialistic tendencies at the borders of the New North Atlantic Alliance.

As you probably know, the Bystroi project triggered a very negative reaction among the Romanian and international public opinion. ZIUA Newspaper and Civic Media Association created a Coalition for Danube Delta, which united over 140 institutions, mass-media outlets and non-governmental organizations. 43.000 people from Romania, Ukraine, European Union, United States of America and all over the world signed an online petition asking the Kyiv Government to stop the Bystroi project (

On 24 August 2004 Romania's Capital was covered by the anti-Bystroi march organized by the Romanian civil society. On this occasion the Coalition for Danube Delta asked Ukraine officially to immediately stop the dragging at Bystroi channel.

ZIUA Newspaper fully supported through the years the advance of democracy in Ukraine, publishing numerous articles over the corruption of Kuchma regime that affected the bilateral relations with Romania. At the same time ZIUA and Civic Media Association published during the electoral campaign the letter of Mrs Yuliya Tymoshenko, asking the Romanian public opinion to give its full support for a democratic change in Ukraine. This change is now a reality and we congratulate you for this. Your presence in the office of Ukraine President certainly will lead to a new course of history, a history that seemed to be already written by the Eastern power, including the relations with Romania. The "orange revolution" took place in Romania too, following a Romanian regime similar to that of Kuchma, a former regime that didn't react in time in order to promote the international measures necessary to stop the destructive channel in Danube Delta.

We hope that the democratic change in Ukraine will bring also a change of attitude towards Danube Delta, one of the most important natural reservations in the world. We are hoping that you have for us an answer according to the European and international conventions for wild life protection that both countries are part of.

ZIUA also remembers that there are other bilateral problems that await a solution, problems like the respect for the rights of Romanian community in Ukraine and the judicial problem over Serpent Island and territorial and economic waters in the Black Sea, subjects upon we kindly ask your position that will be published in ZIUA Newspaper.

We have trust that the democratic values shared by your Excellency will lead to a real partnership Ukraine-Romania, a partnership with visible effects in the security architecture of the entire region.

ZIUA and Civic Media
Victor Roncea
Campaign Coordinator
Coalition for Danube Delta

Societatea civila pentru salvarea Deltei Dunarii

Ucraina a demarat la inceputul anului 2004 constructia unui canal navigabil pe bratul Bastroe din Delta Dunarii, proiect extrem de periculos pentru intregul ecosistem al Deltei Dunarii. In incercarea de a avea acces direct pe Dunare la Marea Neagra, autoritatile ucrainene au decis sa construiasca un canal navigabil chiar prin mijlocul Rezervatiei Naturale Delta Dunarii, zona care face parte din patrimoniul UNESCO. Statele Unite, Uniunea Europeana si Romania, alaturi de prestigioase organizatii internationale de protectie a mediului, cum ar fi World Wildlife Fund, au criticat intentia Ucrainei de a construi acest canal navigabil in Delta Dunarii. Numerosi experti internationali au atras atentia Ucrainei si comunitatii internationale asupra faptului ca zeci de specii de pasari migratoare care tranziteaza Delta Dunarii in fiecare an, alaturi de numeroase specii de pesti, sunt amenintate cu disparitia in urma construirii canalului navigabil ucrainean pe bratul Bastroe. De altfel, proiectul a intampinat opozitia puternica a societatii civile din Ucraina, organizatiile de mediu din aceasta tara fiind primele care au protestat fata de constructia canalului.

In ceasul al 11-lea, autoritatile de la Bucuresti au reactionat la randul lor, solicitand Ucrainei sa opreasca ridicarea canalului pana la realizarea unui studiu independent care sa evalueze impactul constructiei asupra mediului inconjurator din Delta Dunarii. Reactia statului roman vine insa foarte tarziu, dupa ce ucrainenii au inceput constructia canalului, cu toate ca autoritatile de la Bucuresti stiau de planul Kievului inca din anul 2001.

Proiectul beneficiaza de sprijinul total al Guvernului ucrainean, care este dispus sa treca peste orice pentru a il duce la indeplinire. De altfel, desi proiectul incalca atat legislatia internationala de mediu, cat si legile interne ucrainene, Kievul considera ca este indreptatit sa finalizeze aceasta constructie.

Prin constructia acestui canal Ucraina incalca urmatoarele angajamente internationale asumate de Kiev: Conventia asupra zonelor umede - Ramsar, 1971; Conventia privind protectia patrimoniului mondial cultural si natural - Paris, 1975; Conventia privind conservarea vietii salbatice si a habitatelor naturale din Europa - Berna, 1979; Conventia privind diversitatea biologica - Rio de Janeiro, 1992; Conventia privind protectia si utilizarea cursurilor de apa transfrontaliere si a lacurilor internationale - Helsinki, 1992; Conventia privind cooperarea pentru protectia si utilizarea durabila a fluviului Dunarea - Sofia, 1994, si Acordul intre Guvernul Romaniei si Guvernul Ucrainei privind cooperarea in domeniul gospodaririi apelor de frontiera - Galati, 1997.

Consideram ca numai impreuna cu societatea civila ucraineana, dornica de o democratizare reala a Ucrainei, societatea civila romaneasca poate actiona la forurile europene si internationale pentru oprirea acestei constructii. De aceea ziarul ZIUA si Asociatia Civic Media incep o campanie mediatica al carei scop este salvarea Deltei Dunarii in fata acestei amenintari. Numai eforturile conjugate ale societatii civile responsabile din Romania si Ucraina pot avea sorti de izbanda. Va asteptam alaturi de noi.

Ziarul ZIUA,
membru al Clubului Roman de Presa (CRP),
al Asociatiei Mondiale a Ziarelor (WAN),
al Federatiei Internationale a Jurnalistilor (FIJ)

Asociatia Civic Media,
membra fondatoare a Conventiei Organizatiilor de Media din Romania (COM),
membra fondatoare a Organizatiei de Media din Sud Estul Europei (SEEMO),
afiliata la Institutul International de Presa (IPI)

Romanian and International Civil Society for saving the Danube Delta


At the beginning of 2004, Ukraine has started the construction of a shipping canal on the Bystroe arm of the Danube Delta.


The project is extremely dangerous to the entire echo-system of the Danube Delta. Ukraine authorities decided to build a shipping canal in order to have direct access to the Black Sea through the Danube river.


The canal passes through the Natural Reservation of the Danube Delta, an area integrated to UNESCO patrimony. The United States, the European Union and Romania, along with prestigious international organizations for environmental protection, such as World Wildlife Fund, have criticized Ukraine's intention to build this shipping canal in the Danube Delta. A large number of international experts have attracted the attention of both Ukraine and of the international community, claiming that several species of migratory birds that have transited the Danube Delta every year, along several species of fishes could disappear as a result of the building of the shipping canal on the Bastroe arm. In fact, the project has faced strong resistance from the civic society in Ukraine. The environmental organizations in this country were actually the first to protest against the building of the canal.


Almost at the last minute, the authorities in Bucharest have reacted upon the matter, demanding Ukraine to cease work at the shipping canal.


The decision is to be applied until research concerning the impact of the construction in question on environment in the Delta is carried out.


Although they had an idea about Kiev's plan ever since 2001, Romanian authorities reacted too late. Ukraine had already started working on the canal.


The project benefits of full support from the Ukrainian government. The latter is willing to move mountains in order to make it come true.


Moreover, although the project is breaking both international environmental laws and internal laws of Ukraine, Kiev authorities consider to be entitled to finalize this construction.


By building this shipping canal, Ukraine infringes the following international engagements, priorly assumed by Kiev: the Convention regarding humid areas -adopted at Ramsar, in 1971; Natural and cultural world-wide protection Convention -Paris, 1975; Wild life and natural habitat preservation In Europe Convention -Bern, 1979; the Convention concerning biologic diversity -Rio de Janeiro, 1992; the Protection and preservation of trans-frontier water flows and international lakes Convention -Helsinki, 1992; the Cooperation for protection and long term usage of the Danube river Convention -Sofia, 1994, and the signed Romanian -Ukrainian Governmental Agreement concerning cooperation in frontier water administration -Galati, 1997.


We think that only together with the Ukrainian civic society, willing to actually democratize Ukraine, the Romanian civic society would be able to act forward to the European and International forums and stop the building of this canal. That is reason for which ZIUA newspaper and Civic Media Association are beginning a media campaign in order to help protecting Danube Delta. Only through common efforts of the civic societies responsible, both Romanian and Ukrainian, can this be obtained. We are hoping you'll join us.


ZIUA Daily
member of Romanian Press Club (CRP),
of World Association of Newspaper (WAN),
of International Federational of Jurnalists (FIJ)

Civic Media Association,
founding member of Convention of Media Organizations of Romania (COM),
founding member of South East Europe Media Organizations (SEEMO),
affiliated to International Press Institute (IPI)

Tel: +40 21 315 91 11

Fax: +40 21 312 01 85


Sign at:

Salvati Biosfera Delta Dunarii!

Continuam campania destinata avertizarii institutiilor internationale pentru incetarea lucrarilor Canalului ucrainean sau impunerea unui embargo Ucrainei

Constient de rolul media in societatea civila romaneasca, ziarul ZIUA a lansat o noua campanie civica, destinata Salvarii Biosferei Delta Dunarii, printr-un apel adresat organizatiilor non-guvernamentale din Romania si Ucraina, din Uniunea Europeana si Statele Unite ale Americii, din spatiul nord-atlantic. Efortul acestora conjugat, indreptat catre atentionarea constanta a organismelor europene si internationale si corelat cu posibilitatea schimbarii democratice din toamna a actualului regim ucrainean, pot duce la stoparea lucrarilor de distrugere a Deltei.

Consideram ca intr-un astfel de moment este necesar ca media romanesti sa treaca de eventualele divergente de ordin editorial sau concurential si sa actioneze impreuna, in egala masura, in aceasta campanie care se doreste a fi a intregii societati civile romanesti.

ZIUA va publica constant apelul pentru Salvarea Biosferei Deltei Dunarii, insotit de adeziunile organizatiilor non-guvernamentale din Romania, Ucraina si din intreaga lume, precum si informatii despre formele acestora de actiune. Solicitam colegilor din media sa actioneze in mod similar pana la incetarea acestei agresiuni asupra Rezervatiei naturale Delta Dunarii.

Intr-un recent apel adresat ministrilor de Externe din tarile dunarene, Fondul Mondial pentru Natura (World Wild Fund) afirma: "In pofida existentei unor rute alternative si mult mai putin nocive de navigare intre Dunare si Marea Neagra, aceasta zona protejata este in prezent distrusa, in ciuda a cel putin 11 conventii internationale la care Ucraina este semnatara. Proiectul de construire a canalului, valorand mai multe milioane de dolari, pune in pericol existenta si habitatul natural a peste 280 de specii de pasari, incluzand aici 70% din intreaga populatie de pelican alb a planetei".

Prezentam mai jos lista organizatiilor care actioneaza in prezent pentru stoparea canalului si au raspuns apelului pentru salvarea Deltei Dunarii.

- World Wild Fund International
- BirdLife International
- Wet Lands International
- Danube Environmental Forum
- Academia Nationala de Stiinte a Ucrainei
- Coalitia Ucraineana pentru Natura, Kiev - Ucraina
- Centrul pentru Cultura si Ecologie, Kiev - Ucraina
- Consiliul Grupului Ecologic Pechenegi, Kiev - Ucraina
- Uniunea Ucraineana pentru Conservarea Vietii Pasarilor, Ucraina
- Uniunea Socio-Ecologica - CSI
- Societatea pentru Cercetarea Pasarilor si Protectia Naturii, Slovenia
- Academia Romana
- National Geographic - Romania
- Muzeul National de Istorie Naturala "Grigore Antipa", Romania
- Institutul National de Cercetare - Dezvoltare Delta Dunarii, Tulcea - Romania
- Centrul de Consultanta Ecologica, Galati - Romania
- Grupul de Explorari Subacvatice si Speologice GESS - Romania
- Muzeul Judetean de Stiintele Naturii, Prahova - Romania
- Societatea de Explorari Oceanografice si Protectia Mediului Marin
- "OCEANIC Club"
- Centrul Carpato-Danubian de GeoEcologie, Bucuresti - Romania
- Societatea Ornitologica Romana, Cluj Napoca - Romania
- Salvati Delta si Dunarea - Academia Catavencu
- Asociatia ECO Dobrogea - Romania
- EcoTerra, Romania
- SalvaEco, Basarabia
- Asociatia Alburnus Maior
- Asociatia Vier Pfoten - Romania
- Miscarea Ecologista din Moldova

- Ziarul ZIUA, Romania
- Asociatia Civic Media, Romania - SEE
- Grupul IntelMedia, Basarabia - Romania
- Grupul de presa Focus Vest - Ziua de Vest, Timisoara - Romania
- Trustul de Presa Amber Press, Romania
- Ziarul "Gardianul", Romania
- Ziarul "Nine O'Clock", Romania
- Ziarul "Flacara Iasului", Romania
- "Ziarul de Vrancea", Romania
- Ziarul "Lumea Romaneasca", Michigan - SUA
- Ziarul "Observatorul", Toronto - Canada
- Ziarul Curentul, Romania
- Ziarul Jurnalul National
- Ziarul Romania Libera
- Academia Catavencu - Saptamanal de moravuri grele, Romania
- B24 FUN
- Capital - Saptamanal Economic si Financiar, Romania
- Revista Arcusul, Bucovina - Ucraina
- Revista Palatul de Justitie, Romania
- Revista Romania Pitoreasca
- Romanian Global News
- Asociatia AlterMedia
- InfoPress Hurmuzachi - Romania
- Knox Newsletters - Romania
- Radio Romantic FM, Romania
- B1 TV, Romania
- Agentia de presa Act Media, Romania
- Asociatia Ziaristilor de Agentie, Romania
- Blocul National Sindical
- Confederatia Nationala Sindicala Cartel ALFA
- Federatia Sindicatelor Jurnalistilor si Tipografilor din Romania
- Asociatia pentru Protectia si Promovarea Libertatii de Exprimare - APPLE
- Uniunea Scriitorilor din Romania
- Institutul Cultural Roman

- Romanians Worldwide (Grup RWW)
- Consiliul Romano-American, California - SUA
- Consiliul Mondial Roman (CMR)
- Filiala Consiliului Mondial Roman, California - SUA
- Filiala Consiliul Mondial Roman, Bucuresti - Romania
- Alianta Romanilor Canadieni - ARC, Toronto - Canada
- Organizatia de tineret "Noua Generatie", Basarabia
- Fundatia Nationala a Romanilor de Pretutindeni, Romania
- Asociatia "Rasaritul Romanesc", Basarabia
- Asociatia de Cultura a Romanilor Vlahilor "Ariadnae Filum", Serbia
- Asociatia Culturala "Curcubeul", Valea Timocului - Serbia
- Comunitatea Romanilor din Bulgaria
- Asociatia Tinerilor Etnici Romani, Bulgaria
- Grupul de Atitudine Civica, SEE
- Liga Tinerilor Romani de Pretutindeni, SEE
- Universitatea de Vara Izvoru Muresului
- Asociatia Femeilor din Romania
- Societatea Phoenix Carita, SUA
- Comunitatea Romanilor din Serbia
- Uniunea Societatilor Romanesti "Pentru integrare europeana" - Ucraina
- Romanian American Cultural Center, Georgia - USA
- Youth for a Better World, Georgia - SUA
- Asociatia de Prietenie Romania - SUA, Romania
- Societatea Culturala Tinutul Herta, Romania
- Fundatia Cavalerii Daciei, Romania
- Uniunea Mondiala a Romanilor Liberi, Paris - Franta
- Institutul "Fratii Golescu" pentru Relatii cu Romanii din Strainatate

- Asociatia Studentilor Crestini Basarabeni din Timisoara - Romania
- Clubul Studentilor Basarabeni Stefan cel Mare, Galati - Romania
- Asociatia Studentilor Basarabeni si Bucovineni, Craiova - Romania
- Liga Studentilor Universitatea Dunarea de Jos, Galati - Romania
- Alianta Nationala a Organizatiilor Studentesti din Romania
- Federatia Alianta Tineretului Universitar (ATU), Romania
- Asociatia Studentilor din Universitatea Bucuresti (ASUB)
- Asociatia "Universitari pentru Universitate" - Universitatea din Bucuresti, Romania
- Asociatia Profesorilor de Istorie din Basarabia
- Facultatea de Silvicultura si Exploatari Forestiere din Brasov, Romania
- Liceul "M. Sadoveanu", Pascani - Romania
- Asociatia de tineret "Junimea" - Romania
- Asociatia Culturala Mihail Eminescu, Romania
- Asociatia de Cooperare Culturala Italia-Moldova
- Fundatia Nationala pentru Tineret - Romania

- Pro Comunitate - Centrul pentru Studii si Dezvoltare, Romania
- Serviciul de Ajutor Maltez - Romania
- Asociatia "Habitat pentru Umanitate" - Romania
- Actiunea Populara, Romania
- Partidul Umanist Roman
- Partidul National Taranesc Crestin Democrat

- Asociatia AIESEC, Pitesti - Romania
- Asociatia Handicapatilor Neuromotori Arges - Romania
- Asociatia 21 Decembrie, Bucuresti - Romania
- Asociatia "21 Decembrie 1989" Arges - Romania
- Fundatia Hand-Rom, Curtea de Arges - Romania
- Fundatia GEC, Aspretele, Arges - Romania
- Asociatia Nationala a Administratorilor de Imobil - Romania
- Asociatia de ajutorare a copiilor aflati in dificultate - Romania
- Asociatia pentru Promovarea Principiilor Europene - Romania
- Asociatia "Alexandru Ion Cuza", Heidelberg - Germania
- Proiectul social independent "Roman in Lume" - Spania
- Asociatia "Romania", Madrid - Spania
- Fundatia TERRA Mileniul III, Romania
- Atelierul de proza Ariergarda, Timisoara - Romania
- Fundatia Culturala Jazz Banat - Romania
- Uniunea Juristilor din Romania
- Fundatia FRP-FORUM
- Coalitia Natura 2000
- Asociatia Romana a Iubitorilor Naturii


Legal Actions to Protect the Danube Delta --

Links to Documents (as of 20 July 2004)

Ecopravo-Lviv (EPL)


The Ukrainian Government and the German construction company Moebius are digging a deep navigation canal through the heart of Ukraine.s portion of the Danube Delta Bilateral Biosphere Reserve.  They started in mid-May, and plan to finish the first phase by mid-August.  Some structures of the new canal will begin directly at the Romanian border.  The canal will affect not only Ukraine and Romania, but a large number of European, Mediterranean, Eurasian, and African countries.  These various countries are Parties to a number of different international treaties, conventions, and agreements with Ukraine.


Ecopravo-Lviv (EPL), an environmental law firm in Ukraine, has filed cases against the Government of Ukraine both in national courts and in international compliance bodies.


This page provides weblinks for access to copies of the legal complaints, cases, and arguments regarding the violations of international and national law by the Ukraine Government in constructing the navigation canal through Bystre Mouth of the Danube River. 


  • The first two groups are cases, complaints, and documents that have been filed by Ecopravo-Lviv (EPL) before international and national courts and bodies. 


  • Other documents listed below are the complaints and statements of others, such as national governments, international bodies, and international nongovernmental organizations. 


  • Finally, we provide links to applicable legal instruments of international law.


All documents are in English unless noted otherwise.  Major documents are shown in bold italics.




EPL has filed legal complaints with a number of international bodies that are responsible for administering international law affecting the Danube Delta Bilateral Biosphere Reserve.


                        A.        ESPOO EIA CONVENTION


The Espoo EIA Convention requires that a government notify other governments whose territory might be affected by a project, that the public of both countries be given notice and an opportunity to comment, and that the environment be protected.  The Ukraine Government has violated its specific legal obligations under the Espoo EIA Convention.  EPL attempted to initiate a formal process to review these violations.  The Implementation Committee, by a narrow, 4-3 vote in January 2004, refused to consider EPL.s complaint because it originated from an NGO . even though the Espoo rules allow the Committee to consider any information received from the Secretariat (and EPL submitted its Complaint through the Secretariat).


Formal Complaint filed by EPL with Wiecher Schrage, Secretary of the Espoo EIA Convention, August 11, 2003, on "Ukraine.s violations of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo EIA Convention)."


Copy of above Formal Complaint in Ukrainian, with cover letter sent by EPL to Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in August 2003.


Supplemental letter filed with the Secretatiat by EPL on 29 October 2003.  [weblink not currently available.]


Report of meeting of Implementation Committee on 30-31 October 2004, refusing to consider EPL.s submission on the ground that information provided so far was .insufficient to demonstrate either that there was a transboundary effect, or that the activity described fell within the scope of the Convention..


Letter to EPL from Secretariat on behalf of Implementation Committee, 3 November 2003, stating that EPL had not submitted enough information.  [weblink not currently available.]


Additional letter with supplemental information filed by EPL with Wiecher Schrage, Secretary of the Espoo EIA Convention, December 12, 2003, providing factual information and legal affidavits showing both transboundary effect and that the navigation canal falls within the scope of the Convention.


Decision of Implementation Committee, 18-19 December 2003 (reported 8 April 2004), refusing by a 4-3 vote to consider the information that EPL submitted to the Secretariat.


Note: In May 2004 the Government of Romania submitted its own formal Complaint to the Espoo Implementation Committee.  See section III of these files. 


                        B.        BONN CMS CONVENTION, MOU, and AEWA


The Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species requires member states to assess impacts on wildlife, consult with other states that share the wild species, and protect them.  Ukraine.s Government has done none of these things.  EPL has attempted to raise this issue with the Secretariat of the Bonn Convention.


Letter of Emergency Notification filed by EPL with Arnulf Müller-Helmbrecht, Executive Secretary UNEP/CMS Secretariat (Bonn Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species), April 24, 2004, noting Ukraine's failure to fulfill "its obligations of assessment, consultation, and decisionmaking under the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Conservation Measures for the Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris (MOU for the Slender-billed Curlew), the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), and the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention).",%20Bonn%20Conv.doc


                        C.        AARHUS PUBLIC PARTICIPATION CONVENTION


Ukraine was the second nation to ratify the Aarhus Public Participation Convention, which requires notification to the public and adequate public participation in any environmental decision.  Ukraine has violated the Convention and EPL has filed a legal complaint (called a .communication from the public.) with the Compliance Committee.  The Committee has admitted the complaint for consideration and asked the Ukraine Government to reply.


Formal Complaint ("Communication from the Public") filed by EPL with the Compliance Committee of the UN ECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, May 5, 2004, detailing how Ukraine has "ignored its obligations under the Aarhus Convention and violated our right to participation in the environmental decision-making."


Letter from Secretariat of the Aarhus Convention to Olga Marushevska, Vice-Head, Department of International Relations, Ministry for Environmental Protection, noting that the Compliance Committee has admitted EPL's communication for consideration and asking for response, 17 May 2004.


Note: In May 2004 the Government of Romania submitted its own formal Complaint to the Aarhus Compliance Committee.  See section III of these files. 


                        D.        DANUBE RIVER PROTECTION CONVENTION


The Danube River Protection Convention requires each state Party to notify others before doing anything to harm the Danube River and to consult.  Ukraine has done nothing in this regard.  EPL has filed a legal complaint with the Secretariat.


Emergency Complaint filed by EPL with Permanent Secretariat of the International Commission  for the Protection of Danube River, May 2004, on "violations of the Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River by Ukraine." and




The Ukraine Government has violated numerous provisions of Ukraine national law in its drive to build the navigation canal.  EPL and its staff have filed numerous lawsuits in various courts to try to force compliance with the law.  Unfortunately, putting pressure on national courts is a fact of life in Ukraine and it is not certain that EPL will be able to receive fair decisions on its claims.


A. Withdrawal of straits and internal ponds from the Danube Biosphere Reserve

            EPL is representing Danube biosphere reserve in court in the case of the withdrawal of straits and internal ponds from DBR, filed by Vilkovo local council. The courts of first and second instance ruled not in our favor and deprived DBR the right to use its straits and internal ponds.

            We are awaiting the decision of  Supreme Commercial Court of Ukraine on our cassation appeal.


(All documents available in Ukrainian at )

B. Challenging of the environmental expertiza conclusion in court

EPL filed two suits to courts challenging the environmental expertiza conclusion №105 regarding the Technical and Economic Assessment (TEA) of Investments of construction of the Danube-Black Sea deep-water navigation canal on the Ukrainian part of the Danube delta and environmental expertiza conclusion №191 regarding canal Danube . Black Sea building project.

            In the first case, court of first instance ruled in favor of EPL and declared invalid the environmental expertiza conclusion N105 of July 10, 2003. The defendant . the Ministry of Environment of Ukraine - appealed this decision.

The Appeal court annulled first instance court's decision. We filed a cassation appeal to the Supreme Commercial Court of Ukraine. The court hearing is scheduled on October, 2004. 

            In the second case, EPL suit is still under the consideration of the court of first instance. 


(All documents available in Ukrainian at )


C. Challenging of the Decree of the President of Ukraine in court

Staff attorney of EPL, Skrylnikov D., filed a complaint to the court challenging Paragraph 3 of the Decree of the President of Ukraine, amending the President's Decree from August, 10, 1998 .On the creation of the Danube Biosphere Reserve.. 

The court rendered a decision to dismiss the complaint of the citizen D. Skrylnikov. Skrylnikov appealed to the second instance court. The results of the appellate court hearing were also not favorable.  D.Skrylnikov filed a cassation appeal. 


(All documents available in Ukrainian at )

For more information see:




EPL is not the only organization to note the obligations and violations of international law regarding Ukraine.  The following official complaints and other documents make note of such obligations and/or violations.




                        Espoo EIA Convention


Romanian official statement to the Third Meeting of the Parties of the Espoo EIA Convention, 1 June 2004, stating that Ukraine began construction of the Bystriy Canal construction .without being taken into consideration several requests of involvement of Romanian authorities and the public..  Romania underlined its request that the EIA procedure in a transboundary context should be applied as it is provided by this Convention..


Romania.s Complaint to the Implementation Committee of the Espoo Convention, 26 and 12 May 2004.  [weblink not currently available.]


                        Aarhus Public Participation Convention


Romania.s Complaint to the Compliance Committee of the Aarhus Convention, 7 June 2004.    [weblink not currently available.]


Romanian Government.s June 16, 2004, press release on its complaint to the Aarhus Convention.s Compliance committee.


                        Other Diplomatic Actions by Romania


Romanian Government.s June 8, 2004, list of its actions to complain about Ukraine.s construction of the Bystroe Canal.


Romanian Government.s June 3, 2004, press release on May 28, 2004, letter from Mr. Adrian Năstase, Prime Minister of Romania, to his Ukrainian counterpart, Mr. Victor Ianucovici, Prime Minister of Ukraine, regarding the start of the construction works for the navigation channel Bâstroe by Ukraine.


Romanian Ministry of External Affairs May 11, 2004, public statement concerning Ukraine.s violations of the Espoo EIA Convention and other norms (in Romanian).


Romanian Government.s 31 May 2004 public statement about meeting between State Secretary Bogdan Aurescu, NGOs, Ministry for Environment and Waters Management, and "The Danube Delta" Biosphere Reservation Administration.


Romanian Ministry of External Affairs December 4, 2004, public statement concerning the resolution that it persuaded the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River to adopt on 1-2 December 2003, meeting in Vienna (in Romanian).


12 Diplomatic Notes sent by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ukrainian Government during 2002, 2003, and 2004, on the proposed Bystroe Canal.  [weblink not currently available.]


Letter of Romanian Ministry of Environment and Waters Management to Ukrainian Government, 12 May 2004, asking for consultation on Bystroe Canal, under the Bilateral Agreement between the Ukrainian Government and the Romanian Government  on Cooperation in the Field of Transboundary Waters Management.  [weblink not currently available.]


B.        European Union


On July 14, 2004, The European Union has asked Ukraine to halt construction work on a canal in the Danube River delta, which the EU fears could harm the environment, a senior EU official said.

[weblink not currently available.]




EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, statement criticizing the planned canal.  [weblink not currently available.]


                        D.        UNESCO, RAMSAR


Mission Report of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme and Ramsar Convention, October 2003, noting that construction of the canal by Ukraine without advance construction of compensatory wetlands would violate Ukraine's obligations under the Ramsar Convention and UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program.


Letter from Secretariat of Ramsar Convention and UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme, May 2004.  [weblink not currently available.]


                        E.        U.S. GOVERNMENT


Statement by Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman of the U.S. Department of State, May 17, 2004, urging the Ukrainian government to fulfill "its international commitments under the environmental agreements to which it is a party."


                        F.        WWF, BIRDLIFE, WETLANDS INTERNATIONAL


Letter to WWF from L. Musina, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy and European Integration of Ukraine, 12 March 2003, stating that a positive decision to build the canal would be taken "only in case of observance of national legislation and international obligations of Ukraine."  [weblink not currently available.]


Letter to President Kuchma from World Wildlife Fund, Birdlife International, and Wetlands International, 13 May 2004, noting that the canal will "breach Ukraine.s protection obligations in the UNESCO reserve and Convention on Wetlands."


                        G.        ICPDR


International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, Resolution expressing concern about Ukraine.s Bystroe Canal, 1-2 December 2003, Vienna, Austria.  [weblink not currently available.]




Ramsar Convention:


UNESCO convention:


Aarhus Public Participation Convention: 


Bern Convention:


Bonn CMS Convention:

African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement.


Espoo EIA Convention: 


Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River:


1948 Belgrade Convention on the Legal Regime of Navigation on the Danube:  [weblink not currently available.]


Agreement between Government of Romania and Government of Ukraine on Cooperation in Management of Boundary Waters, 30 September 1997:  [weblink not currently available.]


Bilateral Agreement between the Ukrainian Government and the Romanian Government  on Cooperation in the Field of Transboundary Waters Management.  [weblink not currently available.]




            According to scientists at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Danube Delta, where the river enters the Black Sea, is "the most important wetland area in Europe."  (WWF, Waterway Transport on Europe.s Lifeline, the Danube. Impacts, threats and opportunities. Vienna, January 2002)  It is also "the largest interconnected reed-bed in the world," the home to 325 species of birds and 75 species of fish, several of both listed in species Red Books and threatened with extinction.  (Ibid., and also see   .The estuaries are important biological environments in that they form the spawning ground for many economically valuable marine species..    The Danube Delta has been recognized as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1995 and was internationally recognized as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1998. ( 


            VI.       UPDATING


            If you desire more information in English on the status of EPL's legal complaints and cases, please consult the following web page:,, and


            News may be found in English (as noted above), Ukrainian (, and Russian (


            News is not provided in other languages, but other information about EPL is provided in Spanish at

Ukraine misinforms other countries and international community - Statement of Ukrainian NGO "Pechenegy"

Violation of international obligations by Ukraine during the construction of deep-water shipping canal Danube-Black Sea through Bystre branch in Danube biosphere reserve have lead to the numerous complaints from other countries and international community.

The government of Ukraine, from one side is hoping to get status of the EU neighboring country and simultaneously proceeds with the implementation of this inadmissible for civilized country project. As the answer to official protests Ukrainian authorities openly misinforms other about their activities.

It's worth mentioning that in the letter of ad interim Minister of international relations of Ukraine V. Yelchenko addressed to the Prime Minister of Ukraine V. Yanykovich he suggested: "with the aim to explain the justification of the position of Ukraine concerning the necessity of construction of navigation canal and to prevent the creation of negative image of our state at the international arena in this context we suggest: to authorize Ministry of environment, Ministry of transport, State committee on radio and TV to conduct necessary public awareness efforts among Mass Media".

- Ukrainian officials stated on several occasions that Ukraine don't erect new shipping canal in Bystre branch but renew existing one.

These statements are absolutely not true: Bystre branch never served as shipping canal, neither before 1956, nor before the beginning of 1990. Only small fishing vessels with draught 1,5 - 2,0 m used it.

- It was alleged several times that objections against the construction of shipping canal through Bystre branch violate the right of Ukraine to renew the shipping on its sovereign territory.

These allegations are also groundless, as the variant of canal through the Bystre branch was not the only possible one. There are two economically and ecologically sounded alternative variants of shipping canal through Stensovsko-Zhebryanskaya sand belt or through Ochakivsky branch. The Ministry of transport and the Ministry of environment are persistently sabotaging the consideration of the alternative variants.

- Ukrainian officials stated that public doesn't list specific international agreements, violated by Ukraine during the construction of canal, as there are no violations of any agreements.

We want to list now the conventions, violated by Ukraine during the process of canal construction through Bystre branch: Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (Bonn CMS Convention), African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River (Danube convention), Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention), Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention); Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention), Agreement between Government of Romania and Government of Ukraine on Cooperation in Management of Boundary Waters.

4. It was alleged that this project doesn't disturb ecological balance of delta and is ecologically safe.

These allegations are negated by the death of thousands of terns' chicks in the eggs on Ptichya (the Bird) spit near the Bystroe estuary in the mid July. The noise from operating dredging vessels caused the death of birds.

Actually, the construction of shipping canal through Bystre branch notwithstanding with the official allegations from Kiev:

- Leads to the destruction of natural area, part of World heritage and unique in its global aspect;

- Posses the threat of possible international isolation of Ukraine;

- Hampers the renewal of shipping on the Ukrainian part of Danube Delta.

If our Ministry of transport and Ministry of environment, instead of lobbying the interests of close circle of businessmen and politicians, had been really concerned about the renewal of shipping, economic prosperity of that region and about the welfare of its population, preservation of natural complexes of Danube Delta, they would have considered ecologically and economically sounded alternatives of shipping canal in Danube Delta.

In this case, we are confident that its possible to renew the shipping, load Ukrainian ports with work - without violating of national legislation by Ukraine, without involvement of Ukraine into international scandal and without posing threat to the existence of Danube biosphere reserve.

We consider the reason of the scandal around the construction of the shipping canal Danube-Black Sea lies in flouting of the law by Ukrainian authorities, but not because of the active environmental public.

We are responsible only for delivering to you true political situation in Ukraine.

Shaparenko Sergey, President of the Council Environmental Group "Pechenegy"
21. 07. 04

The Romanian Academy is against building Channel Bastroe

"The Romanian Academy takes this opportunity to express its concern at the intention of the Ukrainian Government to built a 160-kilometer channel in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, despite numerous warnings coming from scientists and ecology organizations in Europe. These warnings are well - grounded: if the project were carried out, 280 bird species (including 70% of the entire population representing the white pelican and half of the Pygmeaus cormorants existing today on our planet) would be jeopardized. Romanian and foreign specialists are warning that beyond such data the entire Delta Reserve is in danger, although the Danube Delta is priceless in Europe. Due to such shocks, it might suffer unpredictable consequences. Mrs. Catherine Day, environment general director in the European Commission, was right to ask Ukraine to stop building operations on channel Bastroe till completing a detailed, objective study on the environment. The Romanian Academy considers this to be a sensible proposal and hopes that Ukrainian authorities will consider it, thus respecting the long humanist tradition in their country.

Romanian and Ukrainian scientists know how easy it is to destroy a natural space and also how difficult (and sometimes impossible) it is to reconstruct it. It is our role to get involved and direct the public opinion's attention towards such projects (such as channel Bastroe), Because of different reasons (most of the times economical reasons), it destroys and eliminates the harmony of the world that carries and feeds us...

Considering all these, the Romanian Academy intends to send a material to the Ukrainian Science Academy - an academy we signed collaboration agreement with. It will propose the specialists in the two institutions to meet and have free, objective debates on the situation of the Danube Delta environment and on the consequences that might effect from projects belonging to politicians in the area. We are repeating that the Danube Delta is public property (European property) and it is our duty to defend it"

The Romanian Academy