The Nile Basin Initiative and the Cooperative Framework Agreement: failing institutional enterprises? A Script in legal history of the Diplomatic Confront (1993–2016)

  • Tadesse Kassa Woldetsadik
Keywords: Nile Basin Initiative, Nile River Cooperative Framework, Negotiations history of the CFA, Legal positions of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, Future of the NBI

Abstract

Nearly two decades since its inception, the Transitional Mechanism of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) has been credited for fulfilling several components of its institutional undertaking –building an atmosphere of trust and dialogue among riparian states. Yet, the negotiations pursued under the auspices of the NBI have failed to realize one of organization’s most fundamental missions: establishing a permanent legal framework and institution ‘acceptable’ to all states across the basin. The diplomatic enterprise leading to the adoption of the Agreement on the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework (CFA) was beset by multifaceted challenges. I argue that in spite of the unparalleled heights in cooperative dialogues that were largely depicted as a ‘political triumph’ from upstream perspective, the legal and hydro–political discourse leading to the CFA’s final framing failed to mollify the ‘expectations’ of two key stake–holding states: Egypt and Sudan. This preordained an existential threat to the institutional future of the NBI itself and the noble objectives it sought to realize.  All the same, the organizational predicament in the basin also evinced that the Nile riparian states have little choice but to revive the ‘dwindling’ momentum and ensure that the NBI’s undertaking is concluded in an ‘inclusive’ and ‘equitable’ manner. Else, this author submits, the alternative would not only present a bleak future from the point of view of cooperation and optimum development of the Nile resources, over the long range, it also stifles the basin states’ enduring riverine interests.

Keywords: Nile Basin Initiative, Nile River Cooperative Framework, Negotiations history of the CFA, Legal positions of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, Future of the NBI

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