UN Security Council refrains from ruling on Ethiopian dam dispute

UN Security Council refrains from ruling on Ethiopian dam dispute
2 min read
02 July, 2021
The UN Security Council has said that it's scope of work does not include resolving disputes between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Egypt and Sudan say the GERD threatens their supply of water [Getty]

The United Nations Security Council has said that the dispute between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, regarding the Grand Renaissance Dam project (GERD), is "outside the scope" of its work. 

The French representative to the UN Nicolas de Riviere, who currently holds the presidency of the council, announced that they would hold a session next Thursday with the disputing countries. 

De Riviere added that the" Security Council will not be able to resolve this issue."

The three countries are currently locked in disagreement about the controversial dam project, with a second filling anticipated to begin in August. 

Both Egypt and Sudan have warned that the project could severely restrict their access to water further downstream, while Ethiopia has insisted that the dam is required for electricity production, which could help lift thousands of Ethiopians out of poverty. 

Egypt's attempts to bring the issue before the UN Security Council have been criticised by observers as "useless".

"It is not the right of the Security Council or the United Nations to preserve these rights, because they are agreements between the three countries and they must agree together on an approach," said GERD expert Mohamed Hafez to Arabi 21

"The most that can be done is to transfer the crisis to the World Bank, as happened between India, Pakistan, and with other such problems," he added.

The idea of a tripartite agreement between the disputing countries was also backed by de Riviere. 

"This file is between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, and these three countries must talk among themselves, and reach logistical arrangements regarding cooperation and participation in water quotas," said the UN representative. 

"Frankly, I do not think that the Security Council has the logistical expertise to decide how much water should go to Egypt or Sudan, this matter is outside the scope and capacity of the Security Council," he continued. 

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Aside from the UN Security Council, there are other options, according to international relations expert Abu al-Khair. 

"The Security Council has countries allied with Ethiopia, who will use the right of veto, and the Security Council is not the first specialist, but the African Union is the first, most beneficial and most useful,” he told Arabi 21.

Ethiopia has insisted that it will proceed with the second filing of the dam, regardless of whether an agreement is reached between the three countries, while adding that it is not its intention to harm Sudan or Egypt.