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International arbitration could be option for Ethiopia's Blue Nile dam: Govt source

If Ethiopia and Egypt fail to come to an agreement about controversial new dam project on the Blue Nile, the matter could be taken to International Court of Justice

Dina Ezzat, Saturday 1 Jun 2013
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Views: 5119

“We have a strong legal case to insist that our share of the Nile water is preserved – this is not just from a political perspective but also from a legal perspective,” said an anonymous Egyptian government source on the eve of the release of a report on the impacts of an Ethiopian dam on the Blue Nile.

Ethiopia had already started on the first phases of constructing the dam, on Tuesday diverting a stretch of the Blue Nile in preparation for the dam.

Egypt and Sudan, which both depend on water from the Blue Nile, which originates in Ethiopia, have long objected to the plans for the dam, concerned that it could harm their share of the Nile water.

Egypt currently receives 55.5 billion cubic metres of the total Nile waters.

The reserve of the Renaissance Dam requires 74 billion cubic metres of water. Ethiopia has an initial plan to fill up the reserve in five years, which could cause Egypt a cut of over 20 percent in five successive years, contributing to Egypt’s existing water shortages.

The Egyptian annual share is decided by a series of international agreements that were signed in the first five decades of last century. Ethiopia has been arguing that agreements concluded during the colonial era should be revisited by independent African states.

“This is not a legal argument – it might be a political argument but not a legal one,” said the government source. He added that there are “precedents by which the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had stipulated the observation of international agreements reached during the colonial era by African states; we have a strong case if we were to go to the ICJ; that is for sure,” he said.

For Egypt and Ethiopia to pursue the arbitration of the ICJ, both countries have to accept the intervention. “If Egypt was to propose this intervention and Ethiopia declines it would put itself in a very unfavourable political situation,” the same source said.

In another option, he added, Egypt could resort to international arbitration in a mechanism that would require the presence of arbitrary representatives of both Egypt and Ethiopia along with international arbitrators. Egypt successfully pursued this to settle its dispute with Israel over Taba and managed to retrieve it in the early 1980s. 

Egypt’s pursuit of arbitration relies on international legal provisions that demand the consent of all the basin states of any river prior to the construction of any mega irrigation projects like the Renaissance Dam.

 These options, Egyptian officials say, are not the immediate choices of Cairo. “We are hopeful to fix the matter through negotiations; we might have a joint mechanism to decide the matter and we have had the firm assurances of Addis Ababa that it will not harm our water interests,” said another government official.

“We already have an idea of what we could do but we are waiting for the release of the report of the impacts of the Renaissance Dam which is being put together by experts from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on Saturday,” he said.

The report is likely to highlight the possible negative repercussion of the ‘proposed dam’ on Egypt’s share and to recommend the need for a consensual scheme to fill up the reserve.

The report may also raise questions about the possible negative environmental impact of the dam on the course of the river Nile. Other questions about the safety of the dam itself have also yet to be addressed.

However, the report would not at all go as far as recommending the cancellation of the project.

“Ethiopia is not without international support for the pursuit of this dam that would help development aspirations; still, it is not unaware of the growing international concern over the many problems of Egypt and the fact that nobody would want to see an acute water shortage problem added to the already tough challenges that the country is facing,” said a Cairo-based European diplomat.

“In fact, the matter could be fixed with the interests of both countries in consideration if Ethiopia agrees on a relatively slow process to fill up the reserve and if Egypt works to cut down on its water losses by upgrading its water usage; the international community could be of help there for sure.”

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taye mekonen
06-02-2014 03:19pm
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Greedy Egyptians: stop bullying ethiopia
you have been using our precious resources for free from time immemorial.But, to our dismay you have left no stone unturned to destroy Ethiopia. you have managed to dismember Ethiopia when Eritrea separated from her motherland. gone are the days when Egyptians are drinking our sweet water while Ethiopians are starving. Therefore, we advise arrogant Egyptians to accept the changing reality at the global level.
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Eyob
05-06-2013 06:24am
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Nile
Thanks God!! all Ethiopian watched in live TV the evil act of Egyptian politicians. Now the people are informed and ready to fight the known enemy.
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17



Dr.Antonio Mascolo
03-06-2013 02:32pm
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A may be possible solution
At the long time, a may be possible solution for all the riparian states on the Nile basin could be the realisation of the Qattara-Project. All the others, are not, because of the population growing and of the rights of all Riparians, to use this water.
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16



Mainama
03-06-2013 01:46pm
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All ways function, but Ethiopia overcomes them
In my view and as i have discussed with many of my fellows and colleagues no single of them want to hurt Egyptians or the country Egypt. Ethiopians never compromised their rights. And dear colonial era agreement proponents, our forefathers fought against colonialism which they defeated it on bare feet and empty stomach. TO repeat that, if found necessary, we do not have to own modern weapons or genetically modified food or whatever it is already in our blood- come and see how a small kid behaves in Ethiopia when it comes to its rights. Going to ICJ, ... would serve no purpose. But, as i have said it earlier we know how water is important for humanity. Our African brothers and sisters need water as we need it. Colonials share the water irrationally some 55.5 billion cubic meter for a country and nothing for Ethiopia. No one even dare to thank Ethiopia and its people for the free lunch. Now for African people, cooperation would be important than wasting time and losing resources making good fortune for outsiders. Thank you!
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15



mohammed h
03-06-2013 11:17am
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reply
-You know pollution by c--- chemical on water. Or strike on Aswan high dam consequence to 90% residents who reside on NILE course. Or what Israel was planned in 1967 or 1974 war with Egypt.
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14



Ash
03-06-2013 12:16am
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Cherry picking
Egypt can't cherry pick colonial treaty... If Egypt want to honor colonial treaty then...it must be all or none... Suiz canal must be seen under colonial treaty... And retrun to rightful owner British. Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalize the Suez Canal to build Aswan Dam.
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Free Ogaden
02-06-2013 03:28pm
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Nile is Egypt and Egypt is Nile
The Ethiopian ruling Junt's is trying to divert their domestic problems to our side. The ongoing Genocide in Ogaden and Gambelle is needed to be focused not an illusion of an existing dam which will harm the Ethiopian and the Nile countries. The so called Grand Renaissance Dam project was launched by the late dictator Meles Zenawi and his minority junta to divert the people’s attention from domestic problems. It is also to preempt the people’s desire for freedom and democratic governance. Before the ruling junta launched the project, it didn’t consult with the people of Ethiopia and countries like Egypt who are affected by it. I want the people of Egypt to understand that Ethiopia is ruled by an ethnic minority junta named Woyanne that does not represent the country’s best interests. Free Ogaden Free Gambella Free Ethiopia
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12



Ambshka
02-06-2013 12:14am
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Colonial treaties
Dear editor, You forgot to mention that the 1929 and 1959 agreements were signed by Britain, Egypt and, later, Sudan. Ethiopia was the notable absentee at the negotiating tables when those agreements were being worked out. This is why it is hard for us to accept those treaties as binding on us. For the benefit of some of your readers, you might also add that Ethiopia was an independent country all the time.
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11



kabtamu niguse
01-06-2013 07:00pm
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we are all the children of Nile!
nile is an internationally shared natural resource among nile basin countries. even if there is no yet internationally binding instrument on this river except some opsolate colonial agreements, its equitable use among basin countries can be easly established through international customs and court decisons. no country have a veto power on the use of this river. moreover, threat of war or proxy wars and distablizations could never solve fresh water issues that involve the interests of present and future genarations. so it is high time fore egypt to stop its proxy wars or threat of wars and peacefuly engage with ethiopian government. negotiation and good faith cooperations can secure the interests of egyptians in a very sustainable maner. never relay on your strong armies and your f-16s. we are living in 21st century when everything is available on market including stealth fighter jets and intercontinental balystic misaels. so what is good for both of us is peace. because we are the children of nile!
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10



Surya P.Tewari
01-06-2013 06:31pm
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The Coherence of nature rids us of conflict
Origin of Nile I explored today through the Google satellite maps. Learned the routes of Blue and White Nile. Met Ahram news accidentally - about the sharing of Nile waters by Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt - in general by the population on the banks. The possessive instinct, the will to achieve in the shortest time the desires - conflict with the cooperation on sharing the natural resources: the owners, (more than or firster than) - covet priority. Howsoever justifiable; levels of ownership and requirement necessitate the inculcation of - "the coherence of nature". The animal/human brain envisages flow of events that hasten the achievable. Practicing the Coherence of nature gets rid of conflicts. Makes both parties coherent to each other.
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