The presidential statement issued by the Security Council on the crisis of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) provided important support to the African Union to carry out its mission in the mediation process in the dam negotiations, which faltered due to the intransigence of Addis Ababa. This thus enhances the role of the African Union President by allowing him to draw upon the expertise of the agreed-upon international observers from the three countries.
The presidential statement is a political victory for Egypt’s vision, and it will represent an important boost to the efforts exerted for the success of the African negotiating track. This certainly requires Ethiopia to engage seriously and with a sincere political will to reach a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, as stated in the presidential statement of the Security Council.
The Security Council statement strongly indicated the importance of the time factor and called for a rapid resumption of negotiations and a binding legal agreement within a specific time. At the same time, Egypt still believes that if the political will is available on the Ethiopian side, an agreement will be reached that meets the aspirations of the three parties on all technical and logistical issues and that there is an urgent need and necessity to strengthen aspects of African unity and integration, instead of increasing the causes of dispute.
This comes in line with the African Free Trade Area that was established, and the existence of an agreement among all on the principle of resolving differences within the framework of the African Union and African solutions.
The first reading of the presidential statement clarifies the importance of time, as if the tripartite negotiations resume, there will be a timetable for reaching a binding legal agreement soon. This indicates the keenness of the members of the Security Council to address this issue and reach a solution to it to reach an agreement within a limited time frame and not in an open framework that allows for more unilateral measures that obstruct and complicate the matter.
The statement also indicated the need for the agreement to include guarantees for all parties following international norms and what is agreed upon without relying on good intentions or vague formulas, which guarantees the rights of the three countries in a clear manner that does not lead to any confusion in implementation so that the obligations are clear and the guarantees are also established.
It is worth commenting here what the sisterly state of Tunisia has done as it was the one who submitted this presidential statement in the Security Council within the framework of its commitment to its African and Arab dimensions and out of its responsibility in the Security Council, and for its belief in the necessity of serving peace and security and promoting the values of dialogue and negotiation. Throughout the negotiations on the draft statement, Tunisia was keen to communicate with all concerned parties and with members of the Security Council at different levels, to bring the views closer and reach a balanced agreement that takes into account all parties and their interests, which guarantees their right to development and keeps the region away from any tensions.
By Dr. Hatem Sadek, Professor at Helwan University