AU Most Appropriate Venue to Resolve GERD Dispute: UNSC Diplomats

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July 9/2021(ENA) Diplomats at the UN Security Council (UNSC) have reiterated that the African Union is the “most appropriate venue to address the dispute on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)” between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt.

At the discussion held at the United Nations Security Council yesterday, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “We understand that the Nile waters and how these waters are used are important to all three of these countries. And we believe this is an issue that can be reconciled.”

A balanced and equitable solution to the filling and operation of the GERD can be reached with political commitment from all parties, she underlined.

Pointing out that this begins with the resumption of productive, substantive negotiations, she  added that those negotiations should be held under the leadership of the African Union and should recommence with urgency.

Furthermore, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield stated that the process should use the 2015 Declaration of Principles signed by the parties and the July 2020 statement by the AU Bureau as foundational references.

“We believe that the African Union is the most appropriate venue to address this dispute, and the United States is committed to providing political and technical support to facilitate a successful outcome,” she underscored.

According to her, reaching a solution on the GERD would pave the way for additional cooperation on water resources, regional development, and economic integration.

Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, Ambassador Zhang Jun said on his part that China believes that through joint efforts, the completion of GERD can become a tripartite development project to enhance mutual trust and win-win cooperation.

“China attaches great importance to the issue of GERD and appreciates the fact that in 2015, the three countries signed a declaration of principles on GERD through dialogue and negotiations and held multiple rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the AU,” he noted.

He recalled that the AU has made lots of efforts to facilitate the tripartite negotiations. China appreciates the active role played by President Felix Tshisekedi and President Cyril Ramaphosa as current and former AU Chairpersons respectively.

Ambassador Zhang Jun urged the international community, including UNSC, to support the three countries in resolving their differences through dialogue and consultation, and to that end, create a favorable external environment to jointly maintain peace, stability and development in the African region.

China stands ready to continue to play a constructive role along with all the parties, he reiterated.

UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Dame Barbara Woodwar said the UK places strong emphasis on consensus between parties on developments that impact a shared natural resource.

“We are pleased that many of the key elements needed to reach that consensus on the GERD are captured in the 2015 Declaration of Principles, in particular the principles not to cause significant harm and of equitable and reasonable utilization,” she underlined.

Since the Declaration of Principles, the three parties have continued talks to reach a more detailed trilateral agreement on the filling and operation of the dam. 

“The United Kingdom is confident that working together, and with the ongoing support of the African Union and the wider international community, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have the strength and resolve to reach agreement to the benefit of all,” the ambassador said.

Ambassador Woodwar affirmed United Kingdom’s strong support for the AU-led process and the governments of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in their endeavors to reach an equitable and mutually acceptable agreement.