Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
Statement08 July 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to our briefers for their insights. I also want to recognize the presence of our distinguished guests today: Minister Shoukry, Minister Assadiq Al Mahdi, Minister Bekele Awulachew, and the representative of the DRC, speaking on behalf of the chairperson of the African Union.
It is clear, that a negotiated settlement can offer a solution to this critical issue. A negotiated agreement stands to benefit millions of people living in the Blue Nile Basin. We, Ireland, recognizes how fundamental this issue is for all parties, who see the Nile as a vital natural resource, critical for the livelihoods and development of the people across Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. A lasting agreement on how the dam is managed is absolutely critical for the long term stability and development of the entire region.
Clearly, cooperation between the Blue Nile States has never been more important. Transboundary water cooperation is of course, a key element in the implementation of the SDGs. Furthermore, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are experiencing firsthand the impacts of climate change, population growth, and rapid urbanization, which will only increase water management challenges. Sustained cooperation over water resources can only strengthen and support mutually beneficial relationships among neighbours. We believe the parties are right to be looking ahead for their own people’s future. But they need to do this in relative harmony and together.
We recognise the African Union’s efforts in leading negotiations on the GERD. We are encouraged by the leadership of the African Union and the Chair of the Democratic Republic of Congo working to facilitate negotiations to find an equitable and peaceful solution - one that is acceptable to all parties.
We believe that the African Union-led negotiations remain the best forum for finding a comprehensive agreement on the GERD. We encourage the AU to continue to draw on the necessary technical expertise and political support to carry out this highly complex facilitation role. Ireland fully supports the efforts of the African Union and the observers to the process to bring the parties together to find a negotiated solution, and we encourage the swift resumption of the talks.
We urge the parties to avoid any actions which might call into question or damage the prospects of an accord. We encourage the parties to redouble their efforts to explore confidence building measures to decrease tensions and build trust. As envisaged in the Declaration of Principles, this could include establishing a reciprocal information-sharing arrangement, with the support of observers, to facilitate mutual sharing of data. Predictability and transparency, we know, are critical to achieving a settlement.
After a decade of negotiations we believe that an agreement on the filling of the GERD should be within the reach of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan. In the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the GERD, the three countries committed to “cooperation, equitable and reasonable utilization, security, and the peaceful settlement of disputes”. We hope that the remaining differences can be overcome with the necessary political will and a spirit of compromise that will benefit all the people of the region.
Once again, we urge the parties to return to the negotiation table. We also understand that to achieve that, political support is required. We see our meeting here today as part of the international community’s response to this. We will continue to support a negotiated resolution on this matter. We fully support the European Union’s role an observer to the AU-led process, and we as Ireland, stand ready to assist as needed.