Conversations > Previous Episodes
The conversation on Previous Episodes captures the speakers' statements on the past developments regarding the GERD negotiation process (i.e., before the start of the UNSC discussions in May 2020).
Concepts / speakers
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Ten most cited concepts
01/05/2020 letter to Security Council
Ethiopia is also arguing that the filling of the GERD is part of the construction process. Not only is this a disingenuous and distorted reading of the DoP, it is also wholly inconsistent with the any scientific understanding of the concepts of construction and filling of the dam.
It was agreed that the TNC would appoint an international consultant to undertake these studies. During this period, the TNC held four meetings that failed to achieve any notable progress. It did not succeed in appointing an international consultant due to Ethiopian obstructionism on procedural issues such as the short-listing of the international consultants and the timeline for the conclusion of the studies recommended by the IPoE.
Ethiopia has recently declared that it intends to commence the impoundment of waters in the GERD reservoir and to begin the filling process without an agreement with downstream states. Ethiopia has sought to justify this position by citing article 5 of the DoP. This position is untenable. Any reading of article 5 that purports to permit the unilateral filling of the GERD is inconsistent with the plain meaning of the text, its context, and the object and purpose of this provision and the DoP as a whole. As aforementioned, article 5 regulates the process of conducting the studies recommended by the IPoE, which are to be utilized to agree on the rules governing the filling and operation of the GERD.
In a further demonstration of its unilateralist posture, Ethiopia has declared that it intends to commence the filling of the GERD during the summer of 2020, which constitutes a material breach of the DoP. Also in contravention of the DoP, Ethiopia has announced that it will not enter into an agreement on the long-term operation of the GERD, and affirmed that it will not accept any constraints on its future projects upstream of the GERD. These positions are wholly inconsistent with international law, and are unacceptable to Egypt as a downstream riparian that will be invariably affected by these projects.
Despite the fact that sufficient energy would have been efficiently generated by the GERD at the storage level proposed by the ENTRO, the technical specifications of the GERD were altered and its storage capacity was progressively increased to 74BCM. This dramatic increase in the volume of the storage reservoir of the GERD is unjustified and raises questions about the actual purpose of the dam and its projected uses, and dramatically increases its potential adverse effects on downstream uses.
14/05/2020 letter to Security Council
It is to be recalled that since the 1990s Ethiopia has been spearheading the establishment of a regional framework, in collaboration with all riparian countries of the River Nile, with financial and technical support from the international community. This was aimed at putting in place a new basin-wide water governance arrangement that would enable rules-based, equitable, sustainable, cooperative management and development of the Nile water resources. Such an arrangement would benefit all while promoting peace and security in the region. This was pursued through the NBI that upported the negotiations for a new Nile-Basin wide legal regime, namely the Agreement on the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework (CFA).
Ethiopia does not have a legal obligation to seek approval of Egypt to fill the Dam. Furthermore, the impoundment of 18.4 billion cubic meters of water in two rounds causes no significant harm on Egypt. Therefore, Ethiopia is in full compliance with the DoP and made a remarkable and generous gesture in offering an agreement to Egypt.
Egypt owing to its continued unilateral approach, has rejected region-wide cooperative frameworks on the Nile River and constructed the Aswan High Dam and new canals without any consultation with regional stakeholders.
It is worth noting that Egypt ignored Ethiopia’s protests in the years 1956, 1957, 1980 and 1997 objecting to the significant harm that Egypt’s water infrastructure would cause to Ethiopia and other Nile riparian States.
19/06/2020 letter to Security Council
Throughout this process, we sought a win-win solution that preserves and promotes the rights and interests of the three riparian states of the Blue Nile. We worked tirelessly to reach an agreement that fulfulls Ethiopia's developmengt goals while minimizing the adverse effects of this mega-dam on downstream riparian states.
None of the downstream riparian states that share international watercourses with Ethiopia (South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt) are either signatories to or parties of the CFA. As such, the CFA is entirely extraneous to the GERD negotiations. Moreover, the GERD negotiations related to a single project on the Blue Nile, which means that the White Nile and its riparian states are not affected by this dam. This further confirms the irrelevance the CFA in this context.
22/06/2020 letter to Security Council
Furthermore, it was Egypt that eventually rejected the region wide cooperative framework on the Nile River that was a result of decade-long dialogue and negotiation among the basin countries. I have enclosed herewith for your reference the relevant historical documents, including copies of the protest letters by Ethiopia, the unfair and unjust 1959 agreement signed by Egypt and the Sudan, as well as the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA).
24/06/2020 letter to Security Council
Sudan has engaged - in good faith - in all the stages of the dam negotiations, including organising the main trilateral negotiation rounds in Khartoum (2013-2015) that culimnated in the successful conclusion of the agreement on the declaration of principles on the GERD.
Sudan led additional initiatives. A series of six video conference rounds of bilateral technical discussions and seven trilateral negotiations took place from 19th of May to 17th of June 2020. During these rounds, Sudan succeeded in bringing the divergent views and positions by submitting three consecutive versions of the draft agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD. These drafts are based on the consensus achieved till mid-Feb. 2020 in DC as well as the discussion from May-June 2020.
29/06/2020 letter to Security Council
This led, after intensive negotiations, in which the three countries fully participated, and for the first time after almost a decade of talks, to an agreement that was prepared under the auspices of the United States and with technical input from the World Bank. This agreement, which Egypt accepted and initialled on 28 February 2020, but which Ethiopia rejected at the eleventh hour, provided a fair and balanced, win-win solution that promotes the interests of our three countries and preserves their riparian rights and equities.
This treaty, the content and terms of which are unambiguous and unequivocal, was intended to provide greater political impetus and guidance to our discussions. It reconfirmed the legal obligation incumbent upon Ethiopia to conduct studies on the transboundary hydrological and socioeconomic effects of GERD and to undertake an assessment of its environmental impact. It also reaffirmed Ethiopia’s political commitment and its legal obligation not to fill the dam without an agreement with its two downstream co-riparians on the rules governing both the filling and operation, which would guarantee Ethiopia the hydropower benefits of this project while minimizing its many harms on downstream States.
Egypt has been subjected to an unjustifiable campaign of unfounded claims that we sought to bind other parties to agreements from the dark era of colonialism. The reality, however, is that every treaty relating to the Nile that was concluded by Ethiopia was signed by its Government, free of any compulsion or coercion, and as an independent and sovereign State. These include a treaty freely signed by the Emperor of Abyssinia in 1902 that prohibited the construction of any waterworks across the Blue Nile that affect the natural flow of the river, and a General Framework for Cooperation, also freely signed by Ethiopia’s late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, and Egypt’s President in 1993, in addition to the 2015 Agreement on Declaration of Principles. Needless to say, all these treaties remain binding and in force.
Regretablly, however, despite the fact that we contracted an international consultancy firm to conduct the studies on the effects and impacts of the dam, the process of undertaking these studies was obstructed, and as a result, they were never completed. Nor do we have unassailable guarantees regarding the safety and structural soundness of GERD. This means that, in the absence of sufficient scientific data, communities downstream of this great structure appear condemned to live in the dark shadow of a great unknown.
26/06/2020 letter to Security Council
Regarding the issue of dam safety, the international panel of experts had clearly attested, in its report dated 31 May 2013, that dam design studies have been undertaken to meet internationally recognized safety standards; dam height was determined on technical criteria, such as energy production, reservoir filling, dam site morphology and upstream dam site location; the dam size is consistent with the inflow at the GERD site; and the contractor and the consultant are companies renowned for accumulated experience in the field of dam construction.
Although none of the three countries ratified the Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses, its important principles are already enshrined in the Declaration of Principles. In relation to the obligation to provide “prior notification”, the Sudan and Egypt did not comply with any of the principles under the Convention.
21/06/2021 letter to Security Council
The Council of the League of Arab States at the ministerial level, at its extraordinary session held on 15 June 2021 in Doha, express strong concern about the announcement by Ethiopia of its intention to continue filling the Renaissance Dam reservoir during the upcoming flood season in the summer of 2021, a unilateral measure that would violate international rules in force, in particular the Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries in Khartoum on 23 March 2015, and damage the interests of Egypt and the Sudan, in particular with regard to water facilities in the Sudan, most notably the Rusayris Dam
23/06/2021 letter to Security Council
On 9 May 2021, Egypt and the Sudan met in Khartoum to unceremoniously declare the negotiation a failure. In addition, Egypt and the Sudan went ahead and tried to drag the Arab League into the situation, which Ethiopia believes is unhelpful. The efforts of Egypt and the Sudan are bound to create misunderstanding between the African Union and the Arab League.
28/06/2021 letter to Security Council
The Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity of Sudan on an official press conference declared his country’s readiness to reach agreement. This created hopes in reaching a critical milestone in the negotiations. However, this did not last long as Sudan and Egypt immediately resorted to series of actions targeting the disruption of the AU led process.
Sudan keeps on blaming the GERD filling for water supply shortages it purports to having experienced. The truth is, at the peak days of the filling - Ethiopia released 90 – 102 million-meter-cube/ day water downstream. This is more than fifty times higher than the daily water supply required in Sudan.
Egypt and Sudan notified the UN, the US, the EU and others about the proposal to have a four-way mediation. They also orchestrated a political and media campaign, pushing the idea of the so called “quartet”. The two never thought the importance of running this news by Ethiopia. Later in the Kinshasa talks, both countries dropped the so called “quartet” and “mediation” without much consideration.
05/07/2021 letter to Security Council
This act of unilateralism constitutes a further material breach by Ethiopia of the Agreement on Declaration of Principles concluded between Egypt, Ethiopia and the Sudan on 23 March 2015. This Agreement clearly and unequivocally requires Ethiopia to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD before undertaking the filling of the reservoir of this dam.
08/07/2021 Procès verbal Security Council
After a decade of negotiations, we believe that an agreement on the filling of the GERD should be within the reach of Ethiopia, the Sudan and Egypt. In the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the GERD, the three countries committed to cooperation, equitable and reasonable utilization, security and the peaceful settlement of disputes. We hope that the remaining differences can be overcome with the necessary political will and a spirit of compromise that will benefit all the people of the region.
We recognize that the parties have already undertaken several initiatives to address issues arising out of the construction and filling of the GERD in Ethiopia. Those include the establishment of an international panel of experts in 2012 to examine the dam’s design and construction plans, a follow-up Tripartite National Committee in 2014 and the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. We believe that those initiatives, particularly the 2015 Agreement on Declaration of Principles, provide a good basis to continue negotiations aimed at reaching an amicable solution that protects the interests of all three countries.
China attaches great importance to the issue of the GERD and appreciates the fact that, in 2015, the three countries signed the Agreement on Declaration of Principles on the GERD following a dialogue and the holding of multiple rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the AU.