The Dispute of Egypt and Ethiopia over the Utilization of the Nile Water

*River Nile – Seth Foss

By Habtamu Lemessa

The controversies related to the construction of GERD are still up in the air between Ethiopia and Egypt. The Current trend however indicate that both Nile riparian states have inclined to resolve the Nile water utilization dispute in peaceful means [for instance, good office, mediation and other related peaceful means of dispute resolution] than resorting to using force . For instance, while Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopian Prime Minister visited Cairo in June 2018, and in 2019 at African-Russia Summits promised to ensure that Ethiopia’s development projects do not harm Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that his country recognizes that the dispute has no military solution. Despite the rhetoric warming relations, Ethiopia and Egypt are at odds over the issue related to Nile River utilization. Dr. Abiy underlined for the parliament that no force could stop Ethiopia from building dam. And he added that if there is a need to go to war, they could get millions readied.  Likewise, currently, all of organ Egyptian states reiterated that they will defend their interest regarding Nile river use by all means available. Thus, this indicates that Egypt has announced it has chosen the path to war.  But this article suggests that, it had better to go ICJ than go to war. Because resorting to arm could cause massive lose of human life and resource. Ethiopia and Egypt do not have a formal Nile water utilization agreement. Although none of them are not party to it, the 1997 of UN watercourse Convention is generally considered to be the most accurate representation of customary international Law regarding shared water utilization. Equitable and reasonable and no significant harm principles are the core principles of the Convention. This article discus the type of harm that may or may not be permitted under international water law. The main theme of this article is thus; to elucidate how ICJ will entertains the Nile dispute, if it would be taken to it. Based on the aforementioned principles, it can be said that the court would be unlikely to find in Egypt’s favor.


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