Monday, March 31, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
Egypt considers referring Renaissance Dam file to The Hague - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East
The Specialized National Councils in Egypt filed an important report to the presidency, including a study about referring the issue of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to the International Court of Justice for arbitration. The report was prepared in Egypt by a team of experts in law and international arbitration led by Mufid Shehab. Shehab was part of the international Taba arbitration tribunal, through which Egypt succeeded in recovering the town in 1988.
The report, which is still under examination, included a comprehensive study that was prepared in the same way the file of Taba was prepared. The study documents the damage that would be inflicted on Egypt as a result of the construction of the Renaissance Dam and examines the stance of Ethiopia, which contradicts international law and United Nationsprinciples. The report would be filed by the Egyptian government to the UN General Assembly, which would decide whether to present it to the UN Security Council or refer it to the International Court of Justice.
Hani Reslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Unit at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor, “The study does not include the issue of direct referral to arbitration through the International Court of Justice, since [arbitration] requires a mutual consent from both parties, and it is unlikely for Ethiopia to accept it. This is why the report will be filed to the UN to be later referred upon its order to the International Court of Justice, in case the presidency decided to put the case in motion.” Reslan participated in a closed workshop with the team that prepared the study under the leadership of Shehab.
For his part, former Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Nasser Eldin Allam told Al-Monitor, “The charters of the UN and the African Union stipulate the peaceful settlement of conflicts. Technical negotiations failed; what is now available is accepting mediation with Ethiopia to build a smaller dam, form a fact-finding committee, choose countries to arbitrate between [Egypt] and Ethiopia or refer to the International Court of Justice.”
Allam said, “In case all the aforementioned solutions are refused, Egypt has the right to resort to international organizations to stop the funding of the dam since there is a conflict. This can be done by presenting a memorandum to the UN affirming the historical rights of Egypt.”
“Egypt can also demand the UN and all its organizations stop the funding of the dam and issue a legal resolution drafted by the International Court of Justice regarding this conflict. The Egyptian government has also the right to go to the UN Security Council to stress that this dam poses a threat to regional peace and security, as it threatens the future of an entire people,” Allam added.
He also noted, “No state can remain silent regarding risks threatening the people. Therefore, we ought to take all the necessary international measures against Ethiopia, and we hope that the Security Council will consider our case, which represents a thirst crisis for 90 million Egyptians. According to Chapters VI and VII of the UN Charter, the Egyptian government has the right to resort to all means to put an end to this crisis. Thus, it has the right to take advantage of regional alliances, use soft power and threaten interests. All this is allowed under international law.”
A well-informed government source told Al-Monitor that the decision of the Specialized National Councils to recommend the referral of the matter to the UN was not supposed to be currently revealed, especially since this step was ostensibly put on hold and waiting for a decision within the presidency. This is not to mention the current circumstances Egypt is going through, as the presidential team was expected to study the case so it can be settled with the next president who will be elected in Egypt.
The source confirmed that the government of new Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb suggested to the presidency that a new round of negotiations be held with the Ethiopian side; the government of previous Prime Minister Hazem el-Biblawi had decided to escalate matters at international levels through visits to many countries and by exerting pressure to stop the funding of the dam and disrupt its construction. This suggestion also included an idea put forth by Mehleb, which is based on the principle of energy for water. This is a new initiative that will be proposed to the government of Addis Ababa, with its details to be revealed shortly afterward.
Egypt has internationalized the issue of the dam, but will it reach the International Court of Justice? This is the question that presents itself in light of the transitional phase Egypt is going through, where decision-makers are preoccupied with the presidential elections that are in the offing.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Foreign Ministry sent a formal document to all Egyptian embassies abroad about Egypt's stance over Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam.
The Egyptian embassies are asked to contact foreign governments and media outlets to clarify the Egyptian stance over the controversial dam, said spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Badr Abdel Atti in statements on Tuesday 25/3/2014.
The document underlined Egypt's firm position on the Nile water file, which is based on the principles of mutual benefit among all parties.
The Ethiopian side does not provide any information about the dam, Abdel Atti said.
Ethiopia recognized the negative effects of the dam on the downstream states, although it previously announced that the dam would not affect the downstream states, Abdel Atti said.
The negotiations are necessary in order to avoid any serious developments that might affect Egypt's national security, he added.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Ethiopia’s parliament has approved a measure to push ahead with its Nile River dam project while changing a colonial-era deal that gave Egypt and Sudan majority stake in the great river.
Ethiopia’s 547-member parliament unanimously agreed on Thursday to ratify the Nile River Cooperative Framework Agreement, which states that a committee must be established to oversee Nile projects - including the controversial $4.7-billion hydroelectric dam in Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, Egyptian lawmakers fear the new dam will diminish their share of the Nile, which provides the desert nation almost all of its water needs.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has vowed that no one will stop the building of the multi-billion-dollar energy project, which is diverting the flow of the river.
A ten-man panel of experts has found that the dam will not significantly affect Egypt or Sudan.
The Nile River Cooperative Framework Agreement was made to replace the 1929 British treaty that awarded Egypt veto power over Nile projects.
In 1959, Sudan and Egypt signed a contract that divided the Nile waters between them, while disregarding the rights of other countries. Egypt faces a water crisis as its population increases.
In the 1960s, the average water share per person was 2,800 cubic meters. Now, the figure has dropped to 600 cubic meters, much below the poverty line, which is 1,000 cubic meters per person.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Continue reading the main story
Ethiopia is pressing ahead with construction of a major new dam on the River Nile, despite stiff opposition from Egypt. BBC correspondents in both countries report from both sides of an increasingly bitter water dispute.Emmanuel Igunza, Ethiopia
A vast section of northern Ethiopia has been turned into a giant building site.
Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (known as Gerd) is now about 30% complete.
The whole project spans an area of 1,800 sq km (695 sq miles).Continue reading the main story
Once completed, in three years, it will be Africa's largest hydropower dam, standing some 170m (558ft) tall.
At a cost of $4.7bn (£2.9bn) it will also be hugely expensive - mostly funded by Ethiopian bonds and taxpayers.
The dam is located in the Benishangul region, a vast, arid land on the border with Sudan, some 900km north-west of the capital Addis Ababa,
Temperatures here can get as high as 48C (118F). Most of the vegetation that existed on the dam site has been cleared to make way for the construction, and the area is now extremely dusty.
In May last year, the builders achieved their first milestone when they diverted the course of the Blue Nile.
What used to be the river bed is now being lined with layers and layers of concrete that will form part of the main dam.
Some 8,500 people working at the site, where construction carries on 24 hours a day.
Part of the actual dam structure is already taking shape. The workers are busy at work on what looks like a huge floor of concrete.
Downstream, Egypt - which relies almost totally on the waters of the Nile, says their supply will be under threat.
Egypt and Sudan currently get the lion's share of the Nile's waters under colonial-era treaties. While Sudan backs Ethiopia's plans, Egypt has remained opposed.
Talks to ease tensions between the two countries have collapsed.
Despite this, Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Amb Dina Mufti describes the dam as a "win-win" project.
"Sudan has already seen the benefits and has come on board, we hope Egypt will see that too," he says.Sally Nabil, Aswan, Egypt
The concern in Egypt is about the potential threat to its dominance over the Nile.
Egypt fears Ethiopia's dam will restrict the flow of this strategic waterway - the main source of water in a country where rainfall is scarce.
The row started in 2011, and Egypt has been worried ever since that its annual quota of the Nile water might be reduced.
This conflict comes at a time when different parts of Egypt are already suffering from a shortage of water. In the northern Nile Delta, the agricultural heart of Egypt, a lot of farmers are waiting with a heavy heart to see if they will be able to cultivate their land next summer.
"With even less water, we will die. We can't survive," says Hafiza, one of the farmers.
Ethiopia says its hydro-electric dam will not harm either of its downstream countries, Egypt or Sudan. However, Egypt is highly sceptical.
"It is a matter of life or death, a national security issue that can never be compromised on," says foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty.
Egypt is aware that some 30% of the Ethiopian dam is completed. It is still unclear what's Egypt's next step will be.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Under the deal, Hydrochina will provide training for the scientific and technical personnel of the Ethiopian enterprise
World Bulletin/News Desk
Ethiopia and China have signed a memorandum of understanding, under which Chinese company Hydrochina would provide technical support and consultation to projects supervised by Ethiopia's Water Works Design and Supervision Enterprise (WWDSE).
"Hydrochina will transfer scientific and technical software, knowhow and management systems," WWDSE business development and planning sub-process manager Berhan Demisse told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.
"The agreement will last for one year beginning March 12," Demisse added.
Under the deal, Hydrochina will provide training for the scientific and technical personnel of the Ethiopian enterprise, he said.
The memo of understanding also provides for the two sides to exchange scientific and technical skills and experience and to share information on the basis of mutually agreed commercial terms, added Demisse.
Founded in Shanghai, China, in 1954, Hydrochina is engaged in providing engineering consultancies, analytics and research services to water projects across China and worldwide.
Ethiopia has 12 river basins, estimated to generate an annual runoff of more than 122 billion cubic meters.
However, observers believe that the economic utilization of the resource lags behind demand.