A Final Statement on the "Nile for Peace" Conference
African civil society representatives call on the protection of the rights of the three countries to reach a fair solution regarding the water of the Nile
Okeil: The document sets out guidelines for resolving the Renaissance Dam crisis and preventing any potential conflict over rivers In Africa
As part of its efforts to promote peace in the African continent, and out of its belief in the vital role played by civil society as a major partner in sustainable peace and development, Maat for Peace, Development, and Human Rights participated in the "Nile for Peace" conference, held in Kampala capital city of Uganda from 5 to 11 April 2021, at the invitation of Kenya's Africa Platform for Social Protection/APSP.
The conference was attended by representatives of civil society and stakeholders from 9 African countries; namely (Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Morocco). Over the course of the conference, experts in water affairs and rights of People, environment, and sustainable development, have discussed the importance of the Nile River, and the agreements organizing water management and distribution, focusing on the Renaissance Dam crisis, in order to come up with alternative solutions, guaranteeing equitable distribution of water, and causing no harm to any of the Nile Basin countries.
All participants agreed on producing a document that includes a number of guidelines to find win-win solutions for everyone. That document affirmedthe need for incorporating the "Do No Harm" principle. The participants have also discussed a number of proposals to develop a short-term quick action strategy to communicate with the three countries and the stakeholders, as well as with the various African and international mechanisms, to brief them on the document and its provisions as they reflect the attitude of the African civil society.
The participants agreed to hold local seminars inside their countries to mobilize various organizations from different African countries to sign the document, and seek to form an African public opinion in support of the principles of the document.
Participants suggested that a long-term strategic plan be drawn up to prevent any potential conflict in the African continent over rivers, and hoped that they would lay the groundwork for the establishment of an entity that seeks to promote peace and prevent conflict.
At the end of the conference, all attendees signed the document which was agreed to serve as "guidelines" for all countries concerned. The document concluded with a set of recommendations to the three conflicting countries, the Nile Basin countries, and the international community, the most important of which are the following:1- Ethiopia should delay the second filling of the Renaissance Dam; 2- Egypt should participate in the realization of Ethiopia's Sustainable Development Agenda; 3- The international community should contribute to compensating Ethiopia for any damage resulting from the delay in filling the dam; 4- The three countries should draw up a legal agreement that guarantees no harm to any of the three peoples.
Commenting on the release of the document, Ayman Okeil, President of Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights, stated that this document serves as a solid basis on which African civil society can stand, to call on governments for peaceful negotiation based on good intentions, not conflicts. The human rights expert stressed that the document serves as a basis for a just solution to the conflict, guaranteeing no harm for either party. Okeil further stressed the need to expedite the advocacy and alignment, as African civil society, with all stakeholders to press for the implementation of the principles of the document, which does not only offer win-win solutions for the Renaissance Dam problem but also serves as a basis for preventing potential conflicts over rivers in Africa. Okeil added that this document is the first of its kind, in eleven years, to be released by African civil society organizations on the Renaissance Dam crisis.
It is worth noting that Uganda has developed 10 years ago the Cooperative Framework Agreement of the Nile Basin Countries, aka. the Entebbe agreement, which was based on an unfair basis and caused a rift between the Nile Basin countries. It is worth noting that it was in Uganda where the meetings of the African civil society organizations have been held to come up with the "Nile for Peace" document, that seeks justice for all.