"Save Lives" Letter to African Union Commissioner

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The National Association for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms and signatories present worriedly this urgent petition over the state of tension surrounding the construction of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and dangers that could threaten lives in the downstream countries (Egypt and Sudan). Over the past ten years, a state of tension prevails between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the construction of a water dam on the Blue Nile River without agreement on the duration of filling the dam’s reservoir and verification on its conformity to international standards and measures to guarantee rights and safety of all parties. We confirm that the situation should be settled away from individual movements because the Nile River is trans-boundary watercourse in which Nile Basin countries have historical rights and shares and conflicts over it represents gross danger on downstream countries in Sudan and Egypt. The situation witnessed a slight detente in the beginning of 2015 by the signature of principles agreement between the three concerned countries. However, in 2020 negotiations witnessed a major retreat, and the three countries announced its failure, and many hostile statements came out through media from all parties, to the extent that Ethiopia announced its ability to raise its armed forces capacity to one million fighters, followed by its one-sided intention to fill the dam reservoir without referring to any of the downstream countries. This is what Egypt and Sudan have responded to through diplomatic statements that they will not stand idly by towards any unilateral action from Ethiopia. As a result, Egypt addressed UN Security Council regarding the stalled negotiations affirming its historical rights and shares in Nile River. On the other hand, military clashes took place between Sudan and Ethiopia, where Ethiopian militias attacked Sudanese borders repeatedly in May and June, 2020 which alarms more tension in the region threatening peace and security. In view of that, we ask all parties to respect the following principles: First: Ethiopia has all rights to build the dam to develop its resources within the framework of the concerned international agreements without detracting from other countries rights. Second: downstream countries have all rights to rest assured that neither of them will be exposed to any risk as a result of building and filling the dam and without decreasing their historical shares in the Nile River   Accordingly, we seek your urgent intervention to support the following demands:

  1. To verify that none of downstream countries will be exposed to the risk of desertification and water scarcity to protect the right of their people to life, and have access to water and food (article 11 and 12 in International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
  2. The commitment of all parties to international mechanisms to settle political conflicts and not to resort to military solutions
  3. The immediate cessation of military clashes between Ethiopia and Sudan
  4. The supervision of the African Union Commission and the United Nations on the tripartite negotiations.
  5. The preparation of technical studies by expert through the African Union Commission and the United Nations to verify the dam’s conformity to standard safety measures
  6. The commitment of Ethiopia not to take any unilateral measures that might hinder negotiations  

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