Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi during their meeting in New York on Monday , July 5, 2021. Photo courtesy of Egypt foreign ministry Facebook page
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Sudanese counterpart Mariam Al-Sadiq met in New York on Monday evening to coordinate their efforts before the upcoming UN Security Council (UNSC) session scheduled for Thursday over the dispute caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The meeting comes only hours after Addis Ababa notified Egypt on Monday that it has begun filling the GERD's reservoir for the second year despite the lack of a legally binding agreement between the three African nations.
Shoukry and Al-Sadiq voiced their “categorical” rejection of Ethiopia’s announcement, saying it reveals Ethiopia's “ill” intention to impose a fait accompli on downstream countries and indifference to the foreseeable negative impacts and damages, according to a statement released by the Egyptian foreign ministry on Tuesday.
Both ministers also said the unilateral filling represents a “blatant” violation of the Declaration of Principles (DoPs) Agreement and a violation of international laws and norms governing the exploitation of transboundary river resources, the statement added.
The DoPs is an agreement signed between the three countries in March 2015 that obliges Ethiopia to cooperate with Egypt and Sudan in filling and operating the dam.
The agreement also mandates the use of mediated negotiation in the event of a dispute arising from differences in the interpretation or application of the DoPs.
Addis Ababa targets storing up to 13.5 billion cubic metres of water in the GERD’s reservoir during the current year’s flood season, which started in July.
The UNSC is set to meet on Thursday upon the request of Egypt and Sudan, who raised the matter with the 15-member body after the African Union-sponsored tripartite negotiations with Ethiopia reached a deadlock earlier this year.
Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating with Ethiopia for a decade to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and rules of operation for the dam, with both downstream countries blaming Addis Ababa for the failure of the talks.
Ethiopia, which hopes the controversial multi-billion-dollar hydropower dam will support its economic development goals, seeks to sign non-binding guidelines on the dam’s filling and operation, as opposed to both downstream countries, who seek a binding deal.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile for over 95 percent of its freshwater, fears the dam will significantly affect its water share if a legally binding deal is not reached.
Sudan fears the unilateral filling of the reservoir will threaten the lives of millions of its people living downstream of the dam, jeopardise the operational safety of its own dams, and consequently risk Sudan’s national security.
Shoukry and Al-Sadiq agreed, during Monday’s meeting, on continuing to intensify contacts and consultations with the UNSC members to urge them to support the position of Egypt and Sudan, which is based on reaching a legally binding agreement that takes into account the interests of the three countries.
Over the past few hours, both ministers held several talks with their counterparts, permanent delegates of the UNSC’s member states, and UN officials.
The talks included meetings and phone calls with African and Arab representatives at the UNSC, in addition to others.