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Editor’s Note from the Ethiopia Observatory:
It is good (that) an agreement has now been signed between the three countries on managing water use on the Nile River and its related aspects. However, the three countries also ought to jointly release the information for their respective peoples. Unfortunately, that has not been the case, at least, as far as Ethiopia is concerned. I would have been delighted, if Ethiopia, as the Nile’s womb, had taken the initiative to release the information. In such matters, however, the proper practice would have been to release it simultaneously in the three capitals, as sign of respect to their respective peoples and by way of information by the three nations. Of course, the TPLF/EPRDF regime often loves to operate like a thief. In a country without national leadership, this time – like all other things we know – it may have been consumed by its need for secrecy with every little thing. And in this case, they also did that in a very shameful way. Egypt showed them that this is not the way this matter should be handled. It released the full content of the ‘Declaration of Principles’ through its national media – Ahram Online to its people and the international community. The TPLF/EPRDF, I mean it, you are busted once again! Annoyingly, the TPLF media are now making noises about publishing a version of the agreement – copied and pasted from Ahram Online! I am sure they still lack a sense of responsibility by not translating it and making the agreement available in Amharic, and other Ethiopian languages too. Nothing would beat the TPLF in beating, harassing, persecuting ethnic groups, imprisoning the Ethiopian people and etc., even forcing them to make contributions toward the construction of the dam! When it comes to giving them information, its habit of ignoring them has taken over, as if this matter is not their business! If the Sudan has not done it, or does not do it, it should matter little to Ethiopia. That is not a model for anyone to follow. After all, like Egypt, Ethiopia is supposedly one of the oldest organized states of the old world – not a ‘banana republic’ the TPLF nincompoops have created 24 years ago! I still hope the translated version of the ‘Declaration of Principles’ is accurate, free from contamination by vestiges of the Wichale Treaty virus! Let us be clear that this is an agreement that would necessitate reaching a raft of future agreements on every conceivable point and details, as paragraph 5 only gives a slight hint of it. In turn, that undertaking would entail a series of long negotiations and further agreements! TEO’s preliminary observations on substance of the declaration’s content is as follows: We note there are some ambiguous language here and there, about whose uses states normally show some restraints. In this latest document, for instance, there is “good intentions”, in paragraph 1, its cousin ‘good will in paragraph 9. In paragraph 10, it gets upgraded into a strange animal called ‘the goodwill principle’. It is inserted therein, seemingly to operate as if it were both pillar and subordinate to the ‘Principle of cooperation’. It is not today that such ambiguity comes back to bite; but when things go wrong and everyone begins to point accusatory fingers. As it stands already a day after the signing of the declaration, Egypt has started spinning its propaganda gin of conquest and victory, claiming in an article Egyptian figures back El-Sisi’s Nile dam negotiations on Ahram Online stating, the declaration emphasizes Egypt’s rights “to maintain and protect the Egyptian people’s historic rights to the Nile water…rights that are inalienable”, as if GERD was intended to deny theirin* (their) right of use. Modern intellectuals inform us, quoting from the father of ‘good will’ – the philosopher Immanuel Kant – they think he believes: “[A] good will is a will whose decisions are wholly determined by moral demands or as he often refers to this, by the Moral Law”, which in the case of GERD, it is not! More troubling in this ‘Declaration of Principle’ are the many clear points of give away to Egypt, embedded in paragraph 4. Those speaking on behalf of Ethiopia must show that they are on top of it, and they are clear-eyed about it. Among others, they would need to follow how the laws/regulations Egypt would draw for implementation by its institutions, especially how the actions of regional administrations fit with this latest declaration. We bring up this issue, because there is reference to this in sub-paragraph 4, where it says, “The three countries will use their common water sources in their provinces in a fair and appropriate manner.” What is the point of it? Is this TPLF’s idea to tell Egypt to use water in a prudent way, or Egypt to tell Ethiopia to use its rain and groundwaters, instead of heavier reliance on the Nile, with Karadobi and other planned uses by Ethiopia of its Nile contributory rivers in mind? If that is the case, it impinges on Ethiopia’s national sovereignty. In paragraph 5 (b), there is a word referring to GERD having “owners”. How many “owners” does it have? How did they become “owners”? What is the agreed language during the negotiations on this? Clarification is in order here, if the idea relates in case or especially to future involvement of Egypt in the operation of GERD and its management. Paragraph 5 (c) also speaks of “mechanism”, without a clarifying adjective. What does ‘mechanism’ mean? Could it jump out of water and irrigation ministries to be pushed by Egypt to become an enterprise to manage the dam, Nile water uses, operate, coordinate GERD ‘activities’, follow-up, etc…? What is it? How do we know that its distorted use/employment would not become point of contention in future – due to variances in practice or implementation/interpretation. On thing that comes to mind, for instance, is Egypt wanting something more out of it, although now the language sounds innocuous? In paragraph 6, it is stated that Egypt and the Sudan would “be given priority to purchase energy generated by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.” Is this priority over the people of Ethiopia? If that is the point of the agreement, this action represents national betrayal. It means that the TPLF is coding through international agreement what it has been practicing, selling electricity to neighboring countries, with no benefit to citizens. We already know that, while our people are in the dark, Djibouti and the Sudan already receive Ethiopian electricity, the latter one even without any charge for politico-security reason! This is a national disgrace, although we believe the country is constantly short of foreign exchange. The beast in this paragraph would cause great deal of consternation in our people, and possibly…! It is a reflection of how much the ethnicist TPLF looks down on our people!
The commentary above from the editor of the Ethiopia Observatory should cause great concern for all parties if it is fact a pillar of thought for the citizens of Ethiopia. The chest thumping about “National Sovereignty” not only circumvents but runs counter to the idea that treaties between governments always impinges on the “sovereignty” of a participating country, be it in trade or in the sharing of “INTERNATIONAL WATERS” as defined by the UN. Water is NOT , can not and never will be, a wholly owned commodity by any country, like in ground minerals such as gold or coal, if it flows from or through International borders. It is then considered a resource of all affected countries and if abused can and most likely will result in war as not only the national interest of a country is at stake but the lives of its citizens…. and therein lies the rub of this “Declaration of Principles” . ~Craig Eisele
Ahram Online publishes a translated version of the “Declaration of Principles” signed by Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in a step to put an end to a four-year dispute over Nile water sharing arrangements among Nile Basin countries. Ten principles are outlined in the document (found below) signed by the three countries. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/125941/Egypt/Politics-/Full-text-of-Declaration-of-Principles-signed-by-E.aspx
Valuing the increasing need of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Republic of the Sudan for their over-border water sources, and realising the importance of the Nile River as a source of life and a vital source for the development of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, the three countries have committed themselves to the following principles concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: 1. Principle of cooperation: – Cooperation based on mutual understanding, common interest, good intentions, benefits for all, and the principles of international law. – Cooperation in understanding the water needs of upstream and downstream countries across all their lands. 2. Principle of development, regional integration and sustainability: – The purpose of the Renaissance Dam is to generate power, contribute to economic development, promote cooperation beyond borders, and regional integration through generating clean sustainable energy that can be relied on. 3. Principle of not causing significant damage: – The three countries will take all the necessary procedures to avoid causing significant damage while using the Blue Nile (the Nile’s main river). – In spite of that, in case significant damage is caused to one of these countries, the country causing the damage […], in the absence of an agreement over that [damaging] action, [is to take] all the necessary procedures to alleviate this damage, and discuss compensation whenever convenient. 4. Principle of fair and appropriate use: – The three countries will use their common water sources in their provinces in a fair and appropriate manner. – To ensure fair and appropriate use, the three countries will take into consideration all guiding elements mentioned below: a. The geographic, the geographic aquatic, the aquatic, the climatical, environmental elements, and the rest of all natural elements. b. Social and economic needs for the concerned Nile Basin countries. c. The residents who depend on water sources in each of the Nile Basin countries. d. The effects of using or the uses of water sources in one of the Nile Basin countries on another Nile Basin country. e. The current and possible uses of water sources. f. Elements of preserving, protecting, [and] developing [water sources] and the economics of water sources, and the cost of the procedures taken in this regard. g. The extent of the availability of alternatives with a comparable value for a planned or a specific use. h. The extent of contribution from each of the Nile Basin countries in the Nile River system. i. The extent of the percentage of the Nile Basin’s space within the territories of each Nile Basin country. 5. The principle of the dam’s storage reservoir first filling, and dam operation policies: – To apply the recommendations of the international technical experts committee and the results of the final report of the Tripartite National Technical Committee during different stages of the dam project. – The three countries should cooperate to use the final findings in the studies recommended by the Tripartite National Technical Committee and international technical experts in order to reach: a. An agreement on the guidelines for different scenarios of the first filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir in parallel with the construction of the dam. b. An agreement on the guidelines and annual operation policies of the Renaissance Dam, which the owners can adjust from time to time. c. To inform downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, on any urgent circumstances that would call for a change in the operations of the dam, in order to ensure coordination with downstream countries’ water reservoirs. – Accordingly the three countries are to establish a proper mechanism through their ministries of water and irrigation. – The timeframe for such points mentioned above is 15 months from the start of preparing two studies about the dam by the international technical committee. 6. The principle of building trust: – Downstream countries will be given priority to purchase energy generated by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. 7. The principle of exchange of information and data: – Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will provide the information and data required to conduct the studies of the national experts committees from the three countries in the proper time. 8. The principle of dam security: – The three countries appreciate all efforts made by Ethiopia up until now to implement the recommendations of the international experts committee regarding the safety of the dam. – Ethiopia will continue in good will to implement all recommendations related to the dam’s security in the reports of the international technical experts. 9. The principle of the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the State: The three countries cooperate on the basis of equal sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the state, mutual benefit and good will, in order to reach the better use and protection of the River Nile. 10. The principle of the peaceful settlement of disputes: The three countries commit to settle any dispute resulting from the interpretation or application of the declaration of principles through talks or negotiations based on the good will principle. If the parties involved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers.
- It is good an agreement has now been signed between the three countries on managing water use on the Nile River and its related aspects. However, the three countries also ought to jointly release the information for their respective peoples. Unfortunately, that has not been the case, at least, as far as Ethiopia is concerned.
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