The UN Security Council listened to remarks from Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and other countries today on Ethiopia’s mega dam on the Nile River, officially known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
However, the countries maintained their firm positions in the hearing requested by Egypt, with Ethiopia Ambassador to United Nation, Taye Atske Selassie stating in his submissions “This council should not be a forum for exerting diplomatic pressure,”
Ethiopia wants to fill the dam it built on the Blue Nile River — a tributary of River Nile. believing doing so will alleviate poverty in the country. However, upstream nations of Egypt and Sudan, believe filling the dam will endanger water levels in the river. The body of water is a major part of the East African economy.
The meeting was announced last week as Ethiopia’s planned July filling nears and negotiations have failed.
At Security Council session, Egypt reiterated its position that there must be an agreement before the dam is filled. Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry painted a bleak picture for Egypt if the dam is to be filled unilaterally.
“A threat of potentially existential proportions has emerged that could encroach on the single source of livelihood of over 100 million Egyptians,” said Shoukry in his remarks.
Shoukry spoke of “survival” several times, saying the dam “could endanger the security and survival of an entire nation.”
Egypt has worked hard to get Sudan on its side with Shoukry mentioned the potential threats to Sudan many times during his address.
Sudan’s Ambassador to the UN Omer Siddig took a similar stance to Egypt during the meeting, saying his country will be the most affected by the dam. “It is the immediate downstream country to the GERD,” added Siddig.
However, Ethiopia rejected the meeting’s premise entirely. Selassie cited article 33 of UN charter which says disputes should first be handled at the regional level. The three countries have had talks this month with South African and African Union participation and were nearing a deal.
Its poignant for Africa leaders to bestow faith in Regional Authorities like the African Union to help solve these conflicts affecting African Countries and not outsiders.
Other countries present on the Security Council at the hearing, including South Africa, Indonesia, the United States and France, have called for continued dialogue.
The United States and the World Bank had mediated on a roadmap among the three countries in February on how to proceed with some of the technical issues that have concerned Egypt in particular, but Ethiopia never signed onto the final document.
“We strongly believe that with constructive dialogue and cooperation, a solution is within reach,” US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Clarf said.