About the project

Project context

The project “A drama of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations” is led at the University of Geneva by the Geneva Water Hub and the UNESCO Chair on hydropolitics, in collaboration with OuestWare and Tommaso Venturini.

The objective is to shed a different light on a well-studied (see Additional Materials section) hotspot for hydropolitical tensions, the Nile River. The project develops around the building of controversy mapping (Latour 2005, Venturini & Munk 2021), a tool that contributes to unpacking the complexity of public disputes.

Obviously, the drama of the GERD entails a great number of explanatory variables that intervene at multiple levels and scales. Here, we focus on a specific process linked to the two UN Security Council meetings that focused on the GERD topic, under the theme “Peace and Security in Africa” (on 29th June 2020 and 8th July 2021).

We mobilize a corpus of data that has been less addressed by the scientific community, the letters provided by three parties (Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan) in preparation for the UN Security Council meetings. Within that framework, we analyze on-going conversations, tones, and concepts that are mobilized, and we also highlight the diversity of actors that intervene. The mapping exercise leads to different types of visualizations that contribute to unpacking the complexity of an ongoing controversy.

In the analysis section, the reader will be able to look into the learnings we derived from the UNSC letters. In addition, we aim to contribute to the public debate, offering the possibility to readers to explore the data by themselves and focus on specific causal links. We hope that the tools and opening towards a new data source will further contribute to an understanding of this complex hydropolitical process and trigger insightful conversations across the science-policy interface.


Main reseachers:

  • University of Geneva: Christian Bréthaut, Fatine Ezbakhe, Sumit Vij, Tommaso Venturini
  • Ouestware: Paul Girard


  • Ouestware: Alexis Jacomy


Bréthaut, C., Ezbakhe, F., Vij, S., Venturini, T., Girard P. (Date). “A drama of GERD negotiations, explore the debates at the UN Security Council around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)”. Geneva Water Hub / UNESCO Chair on hydropolitics at the University of Geneva.


As for any research process, some disagreement may intervene in regard to categories and understandings. As such, this website invites users to build their own analysis, it therefore provides both the raw data (letters provided by parties, filters allowing to explore different causal links) and the qualitative research we derived from it. As such, we hope our contribution will be useful for actors interested in the GERD controversy. The authors declare no conflict of interest. For any information, please write to us at research@genevawaterhub.org.