EIPSA Press Release on Agreement on the Declaration of Principles (DoP) between Ethiopia, the Sudan and Egypt
After long years of struggle, confrontation and negotiations over the utilization the Nile waters, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt signed an Agreement on Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project (GERDP) on 23rd March, 2015. The signing of the Declaration of Principles (DoP) by the three countries is a turning point in the history of the Nile politics. The DoP is the first step and a foundation in turning dispute and confrontation into cooperation. It is also a sign of common understanding and determination by the three countries to elevate their relations to a higher level and enhance their cooperation.
EIPSA believes that the signing of the DoP is an important breakthrough and a historical phenomenon in the Eastern Nile Basin countries mainly for five major reasons.
Firstly, there has never been a consensus reached and an agreement signed between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt concerning the management and utilization of the Nile waters. Hence the DoP, despite on a specific project like the GERD, is very important first step, signalling a fundamental change of course into a convergence of interests of the three countries.
Secondly, one of the best messages of this DoP is that, Egypt by agreeing to the basic principles of international water law such as “equitable and reasonable utilization” and “no significant harm” accepts that all riparian states have the right to utilize the Nile waters for any purpose. The DoP the three countries signed in Khartoum contravenes the so-called previous agreements namely, the 1929 and 1959 agreements which denied Ethiopia’s inherent right to use its Nile waters. These agreements ((Ethiopia was not part of the agreements) unjustly gives Egypt a self-claimed “historic right” and “veto power” over the Nile waters by undermining the interests of all other riparian states. Ethiopia and the other Nile Basin countries rejected the 1929 and 1959 agreements on the basis of international law and customary practices. The DoP, however, sets the path for equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile waters. And this is in fact a testimony to Ethiopia’s principled stance regarding the Nile waters which is based on win-win approach and equity to all riparian states.
Thirdly, Egypt, as a matter of fact, accepted the construction of GERD and Ethiopia’s right to use its water resources. In the past, Egypt had launched many massive diplomatic offensives against Ethiopia to hinder the construction of the GERD including denial of Ethiopia`s legitimate right to utilize its Nile waters.
Fourthly, the signing of the DoP is historical because it is a document where the three countries come together and show that it is possible to build trust and confidence among the Nile Basin countries by disregarding history of mistrust, confrontation and suspicion.
Fifthly, from the principles stated in the DoP, it is clear that, the three countries have reached the understanding that no other option in the management and utilization of the Nile waters is on the table but cooperation.
Finally, EIPSA warmly welcomes the signing of the DoP and appreciates the decision and commitment of the leaders of the three countries that demonstrate cooperation and good neighbourliness. EIPSA, as a professional association, would also like to congratulate the people of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt for this remarkable achievement of their respective people and governments. The official DoP document is annexed below and recommend to all scholars and commentators to use it as a reference. EIPSA would also like to announce that it will come up with detailed analyses of the DoP on GERD very soon.
EIPSA Executive Committee, April 2015
Ethiopian Professional Support for Abay/Nile (EIPSA)