Rising from its meeting on Thursday, the UN Security Council members have urged Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to resume talks.
The UNSC further expressed its optimism and backed African Union-led mediation efforts between the parties in the dispute over the operation of a $5 billion giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia.
Egypt and Sudan requested the UN Security Council’s intervention on dispute after Ethiopia earlier this week began filling the reservoir behind its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) for a second year. Ethiopia rejects any involvement of the Security Council.
US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the council that
“A balanced and equitable solution to the filling and operation of the GERD can be reached with political commitment from all parties.”
“This begins with the resumption of productive substantive negotiations. Those negotiations should be held under the leadership of the African Union, and should recommence with urgency,” she said, adding that the African Union “is the most appropriate venue to address this dispute.”
Tunisia suggested a draft Security Council resolution that would call for a binding agreement between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt on the operation of the giant dam within six months. It was not clear if or when it could be put to a vote.
While the dam is crucial to Ethiopia’s power generation and economic future, Egypt views it as a serious threat to its Nile water supplies on which it relies on for most of its water needs.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry wants the Security Council to adopt the resolution.
Sudan’s concerns are mainly over the dam’s safety and impact on its own dams and water stations.
Sudan’s Foreign Minister Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi also urged the council to act by calling for a resumption of negotiations and on Ethiopia to abstain from any unilateral measures.
Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele Awulachew, said an agreement on the operation of the dam is “within reach” and said it was regrettable that Egypt and Sudan pushed for the Security Council meeting.