An agreement between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is within reach, with the UN ready to support the talks and the African Union-led process to resolve the remaining disputes, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peace Affairs told the Security Council in a video conference on 29 June. The Estonian representative said that the issue of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam could only be resolved by mutual agreement through direct discussions and understanding between the three countries concerned. He called on them to stay the course and encouraged them to continue negotiations in good faith, make the necessary concessions and reach a mutually beneficial tripartite agreement. I hope that an agreement can be reached in the coming weeks, as provided for in the African Union process. He added that this is a historic opportunity for the parties to lead by example and show the world how to turn a source of conflict into cooperation. She commended the parties for their determination to negotiate an agreement and for the efforts of the African Union to facilitate the process, and said the remaining differences were technical and legal, including the commitment of an agreement, a dispute settlement mechanism and the management of water flow during droughts. While the United Nations did not participate in the negotiations, the Secretary-General is fully concerned about this issue. The United Nations is ready to provide technical and specialized assistance, as appropriate and by the three countries, including any assistance necessary for the African Union-led process. The highlights of the discussions were how much water Ethiopia will release from the dam downstream in the event of a multi-year drought and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve future disputes. Three countries will reach a “final agreement” in two weeks, Ethiopia announced after the African Union online summit. Despite recent efforts with the participation of the United States and the World Bank, Ethiopia failed to approve a fair deal in 2020 and the discussions that followed were also unsuccessful. While Egypt believes that a legally binding agreement should contain a dispute settlement mechanism and clear definitions that set the threshold for significant harm to be avoided, it has been argued that simple guidelines of uncertain legal importance, which could be adapted unilaterally, should suffice.
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