UNSC will not interfere in Ethiopia dam issue, says a UN Official

A UN official has said that he was disappointed because the UN Security Council is not ready to help ease tensions over Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, reported the New Khaleej.

The UNESCO Chair on International Water Cooperation and Professor of Peace and Conflict at the Swiss university of Uppsala, Ashok Sawin, said: “It is not possible that the UN Security Council would accept Egypt’s request to mediate.”

He added: “It is not possible that all the permanent members would agree to mediate in this crisis.”

“Any unilateral action by Ethiopia will result in a high conflict situation with Egypt & can also deteriorate its relations with Sudan,” he warned.

Egypt, which is almost entirely reliant on the Nile for agriculture and drinking water, fears the filling process will significantly reduce the flow of Nile water, while Ethiopia has dismissed Cairo’s concerns and says the project is key to its own development efforts.

Egypt refers GERD issue to UN Security Council

Egypt on 19 June 2020 called the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), to intervene in the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam issue, asserting the importance on continuing the negations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in order to reach a fair and just solution for all three countries.

In the statement, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed the need to prevent any unilateral measures that might affect the chances of reaching a balanced agreement.

Egypt’s request to the Security Council was reportedly based on Article 35 of the United Nations Charter, which allows member states to alert the Council to any update that might threaten the international peace and security; the statement read.

It was further explained that this move was taken in light of the ‘stalled negotiations’ that took place recently on the GERD through several negotiations over the past period.

Among these talks were many tripartite negotiations and the talks that were held in Washington with the mediation of the United States and the World Bank, which resulted in reaching a balanced agreement for all three countries; however, it was rejected by Ethiopia.

According to the statement, the most recent talks that were arranged by Sudan, also failed, and all efforts have gone in vain due to ‘Ethiopia’s lack of political will, and its insistence on continuing to fill the Dam unilaterally in violation of the Declaration of Principles Agreement signed by the three countries on March 23, 2015’, the statement said.

Egypt has reaffirmed, in the statement, its eagerness to reach an agreement that meets the interests of the three countries.

“This what prompted Egypt from the beginning to engage in successive rounds of negotiations in good faith and sincere political will. From this standpoint, and given the existential issue of the Nile waters to the Egyptians, the country has called on the Security Council to intervene, in order to avoid any tensions and maintain international peace and security.” The statement concluded.

In statements attributed to the Ethiopian Foreign Minister published on 19 June by Al-Arabiya Saudi channel, Ethiopia announced that it would continue filling the Lake of El-Nahda Dam ‘with or without an agreement’ and that they will not ‘beg to use their water resources’.

Last Wednesday, Egypt’s water resources minister said that talks to resolve differences on filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam were concluded, after failing to persuade Ethiopia to refer the issue to the prime ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan as a last chance to reach an agreement.

Egypt has earlier warned that it may resort to other options given Ethiopia’s intransigence and rejection to reach an agreement with Egypt that would secure the latter’s water share. Other options may include raising the issue with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to prevent Ethiopia from adopting unilateral measures that may undermine the Egyptian rights.

Following the talks on Wednesday between the water resources ministers of the three nations on GERD, Egyptian Minister Mohamed Abdel Aaty said the discussions have not achieved any significant progress, due to Ethiopia’s “rigid” stances on the technical and legal sides.

Ethiopia has refused to allow the three states to conclude a binding agreement that is consistent with international law and affirmed sticking to reaching only guidelines that Ethiopia can amend individually, the minister said.

Ethiopia also sought to obtain an absolute right to establish projects on the upper reaches of the Blue Nile River, Abdel Aaty said. It also refrained from agreeing on including a binding legal mechanism to settle disputes and effective procedures to face drought in the GERD agreement.

Eventually, the Egyptian minister thanked Sudan’s initiative to call for these discussions and hailed its serious efforts to back talks with the aim of reaching an agreement.

Here is the full text of Egypt’s statement to the UNSC:

“The Arab Republic of Egypt announced on Friday, June 19, 2020 that it has submitted a request to the United Nations Security Council concerning the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The request called for the Council to intervene, in order to insure the necessity of continuing the negotiations in good faith among the three countries; Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, in fulfillment of their commitments under international law to reach a fair and balanced solution and not to take any unilateral measures that may influence the chances to reach an agreement. Egypt’s letter to the Security Council was based on Article 35 of the United Nations Charter, which allows member states to alert the Council to any crisis that could threaten international security and peace.

The Arab Republic of Egypt has taken this decision in light of the stalled negotiations regarding the Renaissance Dam recently, as a result of the non-positive Ethiopian positions. The latter come in the framework of a continuous approach in that regard throughout a decade of strenuous efforts, and numerous rounds of tripartite negotiations, as well as the negotiations held in Washington under the auspices of the United States of America and in cooperation with the World Bank, leading to an agreement that takes into account the interests of the three countries and which has been rejected by Ethiopia; all the way to the latest round of negotiations which brotherly Sudan graciously called for and invested considerable efforts in to reach a fair and balanced agreement that takes into account the interests of all sides. Nevertheless, all these efforts were stalled because of the lack of political will from the part of Ethiopia, and the latter’s insistence to continue filling the dam unilaterally, in violation of the Declaration of Principles agreement signed by the three countries on March, 23, 2015. It states the necessity of reaching an agreement among the three countries regarding the rules of filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, and requires Ethiopia not to cause serious harm to the two downstream states.

Egypt reaffirms its keenness to reach an agreement that realizes the interests of the three countries and does not encroach on any of them, which has prompted it to engage in consecutive rounds of negotiations in good face and sincere political will. From this point on, and given that the water of the Nile represents an existential issue for the Egyptian people, Egypt has called for the Security Council to intervene and assume its responsibilities to avoid any sorts of tensions and to preserve international peace and security.”