Mizan Law Review

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From Tenuous Legal Arguments to Securitization and Benefit Sharing: Hegemonic Obstinacy – The Stumbling Block against Resolution of the Nile Waters Question

DZ Mekonnen


Resolution of the Nile waters question has proved, once again, to be an elusive task. Identifying the major hurdle which has bedeviled past cooperative initiatives and rendered current efforts mere Sisyphean ones is thus of paramount importance. The main thrust of this article is to identify this challenge which has thus far stifled almost all efforts at resolution of the Nile waters question in a fair and equitable manner. The consistently obstinate position Egypt has taken over the years to maintain its poignantly inequitable “share” of Nile waters forever is the heart of the problem which makes any settlement of the Nile waters question a virtual impossibility. Relying on its status as the basin’s hydro-hegemon, Egypt has so far been able to not only defend the indefensible but has also been able to effectively hoodwink and contain the non-hegemonic riparians by engaging them in “cooperative initiatives” and a “benefit sharing” scheme it effectively is using as stalling tactics while aggressively pursuing giant hydraulic projects as instruments of
resource capture. A real transformation and a breakthrough in this stalemate requires, of necessity, a change in the malign, oppressive nature of Egyptian hydro-hegemony into a benign, cooperative one, at least. The non-hegemonic riparian states have thus to adopt effective counter-hegemonic strategies in order to force Egypt back to the negotiation table, developing, in the mean time, the resource and technical capability that would enable them to resist and overcome the multifaceted pressure and influence the hydro-hegemon will inevitably exert to keep them in line; failure to do so would surely condemn them to live, ad infinitum, with the grotesquely inequitable status quo.

Key words: Equitable utilization; Nile waters question; cooperative framework agreement; hydro-hegemony; securitization; benefit sharing; international water law.
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