Ethiopia Should Never Allow Colonial-Era, Hegemonic Mentality - Scholars

Ethiopia should never allow colonial-era agreements and hegemonic mentality to govern and decide on matters of its national interests, scholars told The Ethiopian Herald.

Besides water-related colonial-era agreements which have no place in current international law, the country should stand firm to resist any unfair proposal on the utilization of the Nile River, as to the scholars.

The effort by some groups to impose colonial era and unfair agreements in the utilization of Trans Boundary Rivers and other resources is unacceptable and has no legal ground from the perspective of international law, scholars claim.

Ethiopia is one of the only two independent African countries during the era of Africa's colonization by European powers. Besides being a founding member of the UN, and a country that became the member of the League of Nation in 1923, it also played a key role in the formation of the Organization of African Unity and the African Union.

Despite this fact, there are still efforts by some to force Ethiopia to accept colonial era water-sharing agreements at the expense of its national interest.

Being a sovereign country with natural resources, it is building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with the principle of shared benefit and cooperation.

The yearning of Egypt to maintain rapacious interest and claim exclusive right over the Nile River is similar to paying tribute to sustain colonial legacy and an insult to Ethiopia, a country whose tributaries supply about 86 percent of the waters of the Nile, as to the scholars.

Dejen Yemane, Lecturer of International Law at Wollo University tells The Ethiopian Herald that colonization by its nature is about exploiting and a means of snatching away resources.

Hence, colonization is a system to exploit and has no moral justification. Accordingly, the 1884 Berlin Conference gave European nations the opportunity to take control of Africa and disregard African people.

In the process, they have reached various agreements that are against the interests of the peoples of Africa, as to Dejen.

True, Dejen said, there are situations where these colonial agreements are applicable. For instance, "we can mention the cases of border issues where colonial agreements are applicable as per the Nyerere's Doctrine that aims to avoid conflicts. But, these treaties or agreements cannot, by any means, be applied to ensure the monopoly of one country over the other country's natural resources." African states denounced such treaties that are signed without their consent.

Thus the effort to enforce colonial-era treaties on African states, let alone Ethiopia which was an independent state at the time, is unacceptable and against their sovereignty. This is the cardinal principle of the UN-endorsed Vienna Congress in 1969.

As to the legal scholar, in 1902 Emperor Menelik II signed the only treaty with Britain not to fully arrest the natural flow of the Nile waters as long as the latter have autonomous interest over its colonies. However, as international law stipulates, these kinds of treaties are nullified once the countries gain independence.

The treaties between Egypt and Sudan regarding the utilization of the Nile, excluding other upper stream countries is also nullified by international law because the Vienna Convention stipulated that a treaty signed between two countries shall not be functional if it threats the interest of a third party that has no role in the treaty-making process.

Ethiopia, according to international law, has a permanent right over its natural resources, and the right to build unilateral projects over its river as the two downstream did, Dejen added.

"Egypt and Sudan can only claim the right to utilize the River Nile based on cooperation and good spirit but the two countries have no legal ground to decide over Ethiopia's domestic matter and sovereignty," Dejen said.

They have to be able to come to the table and renegotiate the issue with Ethiopia, a country which is the owner of the resource and not part of past unfair colonial and bilateral agreements between Egypt and Sudan, he insisted.

Engineer Muhamed Ahmed, Water Engineering Lecturer at Semera University also said Egypt never sleeps in its effort to sustain its exclusive interest over the utilization of River Nile though they possess underground water that can be consumed for about 900 years.

Besides, though the country is surrounded by water bodies, Egypt failed to utilize its alternative water sources through technology. All it has been doing is to try to maintain its hegemonic ownership of the Nile waters based on the colonial-era and non-inclusive protocols and conventions.

Muhamed further said that Egypt is busy deceiving the Arab World by disseminating fake news and portraying Ethiopia as an offender of International Law.

He insisted that the stance of Egypt would not be acceptable from the perspective of the framework of international law and moral ground.

However, the Egyptians will continue to consider colonial protocols and convention as the sole legal framework to utilize River Nile. "For this to happen, they engage in instigating conflicts among Ethiopians and would deploy all resources at their disposal to sustain its voracious interest."

Hence, he urged Ethiopian leaders to remain alert during future negotiations, he added.

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