International Boundary Study – Afghanistan-Iran Boundary

The waters of the Helmand River have long been a bone of contention between Afghanistan and Iran. Rising in the mountains west of Kabul, the Helmand River flows for most of its course through Afghanistan but, before emptying into the Hamun-e-Saberi, it forms the international boundary between the two states. Continued use by both countries is vital to the existence of the population of the Seistan region. However, in spite of the differences in views concerning water allocation and other riparian rights, the physical location of the international boundary has long been accepted without dispute.

Four arbitral awards, three British and one Turkish, have served to establish the present boundary between Afghanistan and Iran.

The presence of British arbitration, delimitation and demarcation commissions along this boundary stems from the provisions of the 1857 Treaty of Paris whereby the British Government agreed to arbitrate all conflicts between Persia and Afghanistan.

“Article VI

His Majesty (the Shah) further engages to abstain hereafter from all interference with the internal affairs of Afghanistan. His Majesty promises to recognize the independence of Herat and of the whole of Afghanistan, and never to attempt to interfere with the independence of those States.

In case of differences arising between the Government of Persia and the countries of Herat and Afghanistan the Persian Government engages to refer them for adjustment to the friendly offices of the British Government, and not to take up arms unless those friendly offices fail of effect.”

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