A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia, on December 26, 2019. - The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a 145-metre-high, 1.8-kilometre-long concrete colossus is set to become the largest hydropower plant in Africa. (AFP)

Egypt has appealed to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to intervene in the years-long dispute over Ethiopian’s new hydroelectric dam to help push for a final deal before filling its reservoir.

In a virtual UNSC session on Monday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt’s proposed resolution “encourages Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to reach an agreement within two weeks without taking any unilateral measures related to the dam.” “Egypt sought to mobilize more international players to intervene and monitor the negotiations on filling and operating the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD),” said Mohamed Sameh, chairman of the international law department with Cairo University.

A neutralized legal framework is also required to resolve any future dispute that might erupt amid failure of negotiations, Sameh, also a member of the Egyptian negotiating team on the GERD, told Xinhua. The Egyptian foreign minister highlighted that the 4.6-billion-U.S. dollar GERD “endangers the lives of 150 million Egyptians and Sudanese.” “The draft resolution is in line with the outcome of an African Union (AU) summit,” where the leaders of the three countries, on June 26, agreed to return to talks aimed at reaching an agreement over the filling of the GERD, said Shoukry. The AU has requested the formation of a committee of experts to finalize a binding agreement on the dam filling in two weeks. The committee will be provided with support from the leaders of Kenya, Mali, Congo, and South Africa besides international observers, the United States, and the European Union.

Hours after the AU agreement was announced, the Ethiopian prime minister’s office said that it is set to begin filling the dam within the next two weeks and the construction will continue. However, Egypt and Sudan had said that Ethiopia should refrain from filling the dam until the countries reached a deal. Sameh expected that the UNSC will call on the three countries to continue their negotiations under the AU umbrella and then submit a report to the UNSC. The Security Council members expressed support for the AU efforts in reviving talks and urged the three countries against the adoption of unilateral actions. “The dispute surrounding the dam, if not resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, could lead to further tensions in the region,” said Nicolas de Riviere, permanent representative of France to the UN.”The international community now became ready to send the file back to the UNSC which will not make it easy for any side to take unilateral steps,” said Tariq Fahmy, professor of political sciences with Cairo University. Ethiopia believes the GERD, which is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa’s largest hydropower dam upon completion, will alleviate poverty in the country.However, the upstream nations of Egypt and Sudan, believe that filling the dam will impact their share and endanger water levels in the river.

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