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Sunday, 18 April 2021

GERD could be in the Security Council’s hands soon

Khartoum vows to take GERD to UN Security Council if all else fails: Sudan will take the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute to the UN Security Council if negotiations with Ethiopia and Egypt don’t make headway, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok tells France24. Hamdok urged the three countries’ prime ministers to accept his invitation to meet in an attempt to resolve the impasse, after ministerial talks failed to yield a breakthrough. Last week, Hamdok suggested holding the prime minister-level summit within 10 days.

Egypt already has the same plan: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has said on multiple occasions that Egypt could take up the matter with the UN Security Council, but appears to have taken a step in that direction after speaking with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres about the talks and penning letters to each of the UN General Assembly and the Security Council last week.

What can the Security Council do, again? If the GERD issue is brought to the Security Council, the 15-member UN committee can issue a resolution that is considered binding, but is not tantamount to international law. The resolution would have to get backing from at least nine members, and not be vetoed by one of the five permanent members — the US, UK, France, China, and Russia. While Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia are currently not members of the council, they would be permitted to join the council’s discussions on the matter but would not vote on a resolution. Egypt and Sudan could, theoretically speaking, be given the green light from the council to take action (including military action) if the council agreed that Ethiopia poses a threat to international peace and security, as per Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

Meanwhile, we’re still drumming up more international support: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi discussed the GERD issue with Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh on Thursday, according to an Ittihadiya statement that is otherwise scant on details. Shoukry also appealed on Thursday to his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, to back Egypt’s position on the impasse at the African Union (AU), according to a ministry statement.

Background: The latest round of talks in Kinshasa earlier this month ended in yet another stalemate, as the three countries failed to agree in a path forward for new talks. Ethiopia rejected a Sudanese proposal to bring in new international mediators, insisting instead that the negotiations continue to be sponsored by the AU. Ethiopia turned down Egyptian proposals to allow observers to participate in the talks to resolve outstanding legal and technical issues of contention. Addis Ababa has said it will move ahead with the second filling of the dam’s reservoir once the rainy season begins in a few months, regardless of whether or not it has reached an agreement on the dam’s filling and operation with Cairo and Khartoum.

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