Ethiopian Dam Negotiations Must Revolve around DoP, Says Aberdeen University Law Professor

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Addis Ababa, September 5/2020(ENA) The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam negotiations must revolve around the Declaration of Principles (DoP) for the interest of Ethiopia and concerns of Egypt and Sudan, and to reach an agreement based on acceptable legal principle of international law, Aberdeen University Law School Professor Zeray Yihdego said.

According to the law professor, the overarching legal challenges the three countries are facing at the moment are to do with translating the Declaration of Principles into the rules of filling and operational management of the GERD.

In the process, “Ethiopia must continue to engage with Sudan and Egypt in good faith without compromising on its sovereign and equitable rights, but at the same time giving considerations to the interests and concerns of Egypt and Sudan,” he noted.

Professor Zeray advised the three countries to continue negotiating in good faith in accordance with the key principles and parameters of the Declaration of Principles (DoP). “DoP is the major step forward for the Eastern Nile basin countries… That is very important for Ethiopia’s national sovereign interest, and the interest of others to reach at an agreement based on an acceptable legal principle of international law, but without the intervention of third or external powers.”

He underscored that things will be complicated and it would be very difficult to get amicable solution for their outstanding issues if they accept the involvement of external powers.

Professor Zeray stressed the need to separate GERD negotiations from Nile water sharing issues that require inclusion of other Nile basin countries and frameworks such as MBI and CFA.  

“GERD is a national and unilateral project financed and under construction by Ethiopia, and that needs to be taken very seriously,” he added.

Therefore, “the GERD negotiations must revolve around DoP. The DoP is very clear. It’s about the dam, hydropower, and managing the issues around this hydropower project.”

GERD Geopolitics and Diplomacy Advisor to ministries of Foreign Affairs, and Water, Irrigation and Energy, Yakob Arsano told ENA that Ethiopia is cautiously engaging in the ongoing negotiations with Egypt and Sudan based on the Declaration of Principles (DoP) for reasonable and fair use of the dam.

“The negotiation is undergoing based on the DoP signed in 2015 by the three countries. That declaration allows the filling, administration and use of GERD to be fair and reasonable. Also, Ethiopia’s rights to fair and reasonable use of the water without harming the other countries,” he explained.

According to him, the other principle is that while Ethiopia constructs the dam “the construction and filling of the GERD goes side by side. There is no principle stating about completing the construction of the dam first and then filling it with new agreement. Thus, Ethiopia is filling the dam alongside the construction, implementing the principle to fairly benefitting without harming others. DoP is still the basis of the negotiations, especially on the Ethiopian side; but Egypt and Sudan are challenging this by getting in and out of the principle.”