GERD Should be Freed from being Geopolitical Hostage: Law Scholar

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Addis Ababa, October 31/2020(ENA) Freeing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) from being a geopolitical hostage and exercising ownership rights over it is crucial, a legal scholar advised.

Wollo University Law Lecturer, Dejen Yemene told ENA that the dam is becoming a geopolitical hostage with unfaithful engagement of Egypt and U.S. meddling.

“Egypt is not negotiating in good faith because the main purpose of the government is to maintain the hydro hegemony over the Nile River.”

The lecturer argues that GERD “is a sovereign dam. And there is no principle or rule that compels countries building a dam in a trans-boundary water to negotiate on how to fill and operate their dam under international watercourse law.”

Yet the good faith shown by Ethiopia is being misunderstood “as the negotiation is going in the wrong direction.”

The U.S. had prepared a bill without the consent of the sovereign countries and continues to side with Egypt.  It’s time to remove USA from its observer status with its eroding neutrality. “Trump has business in the Middle East and Egypt; so he stands on the side of Egypt and pressures Ethiopia to sign an unfair deal.”

The United Nations Charter and the Vena Convention are the very manifestation of the state’s sovereignty. Trump has violated the sovereignty of Ethiopia and also one of the very manifestation of consent-based treaty making, he noted.

Dejen pointed out that President Trump’s intentional remark that Egypt will blow up the Ethiopian dam is a declaration of war that breaches international law and the U.S. should not be allowed to take part in the negotiations even as an observer.

GERD is a people’s project which is being built by the Ethiopian people in Ethiopian territory. Trump’s incitement of war is therefore a clear violation of international law, because it would affect the territorial integrity and political independence of Ethiopia, the legal scholar stressed.

According to him, the African Union led GERD talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are commendable, and Ethiopia should negotiate in goodwill. However, Ethiopia has to exercise its ownership rights as far as GERD is being used as a geopolitical hostage and Egypt and Sudan are solely considering their interests as well as claiming to sustain historical hegemony.

In this case “the best deal is no deal,” Dejen insisted. “GERD should be freed from being geopolitical hostage and there should not be any deal. There should not be any agreement on the GERD which sacrifices the interest of Ethiopia.”

Ethiopia has a legitimate right to defend its dam and people by refusing to sign any deal it felt unfair through any external pressure, the scholar elaborated. 

He argued that Egypt and Sudan should go back to the CFA and come up with the arrangement to deal with the long-standing dispute over the Nile River.  

“Now I think the war is already waged by Trump. So Ethiopia would be in a better position even to refuse any deal as a self-defense because it is legitimate to protect ones own dam and  people from such unfair and biased deal,” the legal scholar noted.

Civil Service University Diplomacy and International Relations Lecturer, Endale Negusse said on his part Ethiopia’s stance during the GERD tripartite negotiations has been clear and incontestable.

“We have now successfully completed the first phase filling of GERD and the key is in our hands now,” he added.

The lecturer pointed out that there is no country or institution that could now force Ethiopia to enter into a binding deal regarding the project and things are proceeding in the right direction.