Africa: Exclusive - Tunisia Asks UNSC to Push for GERD Binding Agreement Within Six Months - Ethiopia Calls for Respect for AU Process

The Nile River has delivered fresh water, fed agriculture, and supported livelihoods in Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan for thousands of years.

Addis Abeba — Ahead of the planned in-person meeting later today, Tunisia, the outgoing non-permanent member of the African Group at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), has submitted a proposal to the 15-member states SC requesting a binding agreement on Ethiopia's mega dam, the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam, within the next six months, and urging " Ethiopia to refrain from continuing to unilaterally fill the GERD reservoir."

The proposal outlines Tunisia's request that "Egypt, Ethiopia and the Sudan to resume negotiations at the joint invitation of the Chairperson of the African Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations to finalize, within a period of six months, the text of a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD that ensures Ethiopia's ability to generate hydropower from the GERD while preventing the inflicting of significant harm on the water security of downstream states."

Submitted to the UNSC a day before the second discussion by the Council on matters of GERD schedule for later today, Tunisia's proposal, also calls upon Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan "to refrain from making any statements, or taking any action that may jeopardize the negotiation process, and urges Ethiopia to refrain from continuing to unilaterally fill the GERD reservoir."

Ethiopia has expressed its disapproval against the UNSC's decision to hold a meeting on matters pertaining to GERD, and made clear that the ongoing AU-led discussions should be the only avenue for negotiations between the three countries.

"The latest attempts made by Sudan and Egypt to take the GERD issue to the UN Peace and Security Council by mobilizing the League of the Arab States would unnecessarily internationalize and securitize the matter," said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen during a meeting with ambassadors and diplomats of the Nile riparian states held in Addis Abeba on July 07.

Today's in-person briefing at the UNSC will take place under the agenda item "Peace and security in Africa". The expected briefers are the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga; the Executive Director of the UN Environmental Program (UNEP), Inger Andersen; and a representative of the Permanent Mission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the UN, as the chairperson of the AU.

FM Demeke also expressed Ethiopia's long held position that "the GERD is a development project which does not fall under the mandate of the Security Council and called on the Council to respect the ongoing AU-led trilateral negotiations and process."

Tunisia's proposal stands in sharp contrast with Ethiopia's position and says in bears in mind "the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security."

Earlier this week, the League of Arab States submitted a letter requesting the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly to intervene in the GERD issue. Ethiopia has told the Council that it rejects "the unwelcome meddling by the League of Arab States on the matter of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)."

"The approach followed by the League risks undermining the friendly and cooperative relations between AU and the Arab League since the trilateral negotiation on the GERD is underway under the auspices of the African Union (AU)", Ethiopia said, once again emphasizing the need to return GERD talk under the auspices the continental body.

Ethiopia is staying on course its plan and is currently conducting the second round filling of the GERD. AS

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