Filling GERD without prior agreement threatens lives of millions: Sudan to UNSC  

Fatma Lotfi
5 Min Read

Sudanese Foreign Ministry sent on Thursday a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to clarify the former’s stance on the latest developments of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Sudanese Foreign Minister Asmaa Abdullah has said in the letter, published by Sky News Arabia, that the GERD has positive and negative effects, and that all parties have to exert great efforts and cooperate to realize the positive impacts and mitigate the negative ones.

Abdullah said that little time remains to reach an agreement over the GERD which requires working hard to turn the dam from a reason for conflict and instability into a catalyst for cooperation between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

Abdullah warned that filling the GERD without a prior agreement could affect the Sudanese Roseires Dam threatening the lives of millions of people.

She asserted Sudan’s commitment to the principles of international water law, especially those related to the fair and reasonable use of shared water resources, which were agreed upon by Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia in the 2015 Declaration of Principles.

In the letter, Abdullah briefed the UNSC on the results of the latest rounds of GERD talks, which had witnessed progress, according to Sudan, on major technical issues but there is still disagreement over some essential legal issues.

called on the UNSC to invite the leaders of the three countries for an emergency meeting to show their political will and commitment to resolve the pending issues.

The Sudanese letter emphasised the need to discourage all concerned parties from taking unilateral measures on the issue including filling the dam without a prior agreement.

Abdullah said that the draft agreement reached on 14 June 2020 sought to ensure the rights of all parties.
“The draft agreement is balanced, fair, and comprehensive, and paves the way to reach a final and comprehensive agreement,” she stated.

On Wednesday, Sudanese Minister of Water and Irrigation Yasser Abbas said that his country received an invitation from Ethiopia to resume negations that stalled earlier this month.

Ethiopia also sent a letter to the UNSC to clarify its stance regarding the GERD talks. It said that Ethiopia “is building the GERD to meet the dire needs of its people and that it is well within its sovereign rights to do so.” 

“We believe we have come a long way in addressing most of the outstanding technical issues, but we still have some work to do in narrowing the gaps on the legal issues,” the Ethiopian letter said according to the Ethiopian News Agency.

Last Friday, Egypt called on the UNSC to intervene in the dispute over the GERD, as Addis Ababa announced that it will go ahead with filling the dam even without an agreement. 

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said that it had filed a complaint to the UNSC to fulfil its responsibilities in keeping international peace and to prevent Ethiopia from taking unilateral actions on the GERD. 

The latest round of trilateral negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia which began on 9 June via videoconference reached a deadlock. The talks followed previous rounds of discussions that have also ended without an agreement. 

Egypt depends on the River Nile for about 90% of its water needs. The country remains concerned that the GERD will shrink its share of Nile water, and cause harms to its people. 

In 1993, Egypt and Ethiopia signed an agreement that prevents any of both countries from implementing water projects that harm the interests of the other. 


There is also an agreement between Egypt and Sudan signed in 1959 that allows Egypt the right to an annual share of 55.5bn cbm of Nile water and Sudan 18.5bn cbm every year. Egypt’s water needs actually reached 59bn cbm.

Through the GERD project, Ethiopia seeks to create the largest hydropower project in Africa. The dam is expected to generate more than 6GW of energy by 2021.

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A journalist in DNE's politics section with more than six years of experience in print and digital journalism, focusing on local political issues, terrorism and human rights. She also writes features on women issues and culture.