Notification and consultation of projects in Transboundary Water Resources: confidence building rather than legal obligation in the context of GERD

  • Abiy Chelkeba
Keywords: International water law, notification, consultation, planned measures, Nile, GERD


Tension and confrontation between riparian states over planned measures are likely to occur in the absence of an inclusive legal framework governing the utilization, management, and conservation of transboundary watercourses. The construction of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), 2011, has re-ignited the tension on the use and share of the riparian countries over the Nile River. Egypt and Sudan have demanded notification of the project, the provision of all available information, and the time for the responses (to these questions) before Ethiopia continues with the construction of the GERD. However, Ethiopia has rejected the request for prior notification as a pre-condition for commencing the GERD project.  As a result, Ethiopia and its downstream neighbours, particularly Egypt, have entered into various forms of consultations and negotiations due to concerns over the impact of the GERD. This article examines whether Ethiopia is under an international obligation not to implement the GERD without notifying and consulting Egypt and Sudan and whether the ongoing consultations and negotiations emanate from a legal obligation or mere confidence-building measures. The author argues that Ethiopia has no obligation (under international treaty obligations and customary international law on transboundary waters) to provide notification of planned measures such as GERD and engage in consultations.

Keywords: International water law; notification; consultation, planned measures; Nile; GERD


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2309-902X
print ISSN: 1998-9881