AU Best Platform for Negotiating GERD Dispute, Says UNESCO Chair

4 mins read
Ethiopian News

Addis Ababa — African Union (AU) is the best platform for resolving the dispute about the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, UNESCO Chair of International Water Cooperation said.

The three countries have made major progress on the dispute in talks mediated by the African Union; and they have agreed to continue negotiating to reach a comprehensive solution.

International Water Cooperation UNESCO Chair, Professor Ashok Swain told ENA that dispute on such development projects as on the Nile River, a trans-boundary resource shared by 11 African countries including Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, has to get African solution.

According to him, the United States-led negotiation of the GERD with the World Bank did not work out due to lack of neutrality.

“We saw what has happened in the US-led negotiation with the World Bank. First of all, you don’t need to be completely neutral to be a good negotiator but at least need to show that you also protecting the rights of everyone in this cause. I think the previous negotiation did not work out because of this reason,” he pointed out.

It is to be recalled that Ethiopia rejected a US-brokered agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam by expressing its disappointment on the statement issued by the Department of Treasury released in February 2020 without its participation.

Acknowledging that Abay is an African river and the water flows in the three member states, the ongoing tripartite negotiation led by the AU would be taken as a larger part of regional cooperation.

“This negotiation by the African Union will be looked at, possibly by the leadership of all the three countries, as somebody imposing verdict on them. It is somehow a regional organization where these countries are members. Therefore, if the African Union cannot this time get a negotiated settlement, I don’t see anyone else can do it,” he stressed.

Swain, who is also a professor of peace and conflict research at Uppsala University in Sweden, said the UN Security Council is not the right place to negotiate about GERD.

When asked whether GERD is a security threat or not, the professor replied that the dam cannot be categorically seen as a threat by UNSC, adding that “it is just for domestic consumption by Egypt.”

As it is a hydropower dam, GERD will not take away the water from the system and it should be looked at everyone gaining from this approach, Swain urged.

“The basic thing is that Ethiopia is not taking the water away from the river. The water is there in the system. Where the water is in the system you just need to provide a platform where the three countries can possibly be assured of using the water and enable them to come together for equitable utilization of Nile River.”

The professor further stated that the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam will also reduce the sediment for the downstream dams and prevent floods as well as allow proper water control in the basin.

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