U.N. Security Council - Reuters
CAIRO – 29 June 2020: An open session for the United Nations Security Council on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, GERD, is expected to take place on Monday, June 29 with the participation of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, upon Egypt’s request and after referring the issue to UNSC on June 20.
In its request submitted to the UN Security Council, Egypt stressed the need to prevent unilateral measures that might affect the chances of reaching a balanced agreement.
"Egypt's request to the Security Council was based on Article 35 of the United Nations Charter, which allows member states to alert the council to any update that might threaten the international peace and security," the statement read.
It was further explained that this move was taken in light of the "stalled negotiations" that took place recently on the GERD through several negotiations over the past period.
Among these talks were many tripartite negotiations and the talks that were held in Washington with the mediation of the United States and the World Bank, which resulted in reaching a balanced agreement; however, it was rejected by Ethiopia.
Even the most recent talks arranged by Sudan were all efforts gone in vain due to "Ethiopia’s lack of political will, and its insistence on continuing to fill the dam unilaterally in violation of the Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries on March 23, 2015," the statement added. Egypt has reaffirmed, in the statement, its eagerness to reach an agreement that meets the interests of the three countries.
“This prompted Egypt from the beginning to engage in successive rounds of negotiations in good faith and sincere political will. From this standpoint, and given the existential issue of the Nile waters to the Egyptians, the country has called on the Security Council to intervene, in order to avoid any tensions and maintain international peace and security,” Egypt’s statement in UNSC mediation concluded.
Sudan as well has addressed the UN Security Council on June 25, expressing deep concern regarding Ethiopia’s decision to start filling the Renaissance Dam without reaching an agreement with the downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan.
Sudan’s Foreign Minister Asmaa Mohammed Abdallah's letter warned that the “unilateral filling of GERD put the operation of the dam, and hence the lives of millions of people living downstream at a very high risk."
"Sudan is deeply concerned about Ethiopia's decision to start filling the GERD reservoir in the absence of an agreement," read the letter.
Legal Committee, resuming talks
However, on June 26, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed, on forming an African Union-sponsored committee grouping legal and technical experts from the three countries to draft a final binding deal on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and avoid any unilateral action including the dam's filling before finalizing an agreement.
During a virtual mini-summit grouping member states of the Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government to discuss the GERD file, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said that Egypt is ready to resume negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia to reach a fair and balanced agreement on filling and operating GERD.
"To ensure successful negotiations, all parties shall pledge not to make unilateral decisions, as well as halt the dam's filling until reaching an agreement preserving the three countries' interests," Sisi said.
"Sisi thanked South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for his call to hold such an important summit to address the vital GERD issue that directly affects the lives of millions in Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia," Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.
Since 2014, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have entered into negotiations on the building of the dam to avoid any possible threats on the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan]. The latest round of the talks which convened early June reached a stalemate, ahead of the Ethiopian unilateral act of deciding to fill the dam’s reservoir mid-July without reaching a final agreement among the three countries.