Renaissance Dam project: between the inadequacy of the International law rules and impossibility of implementation

Abdelnaser Al Sayid Mohamed Aljahani


The Nile River is currently a source of tension and conflict between the riparian states, especially Egypt and Ethiopia, when the latter has started in 2011 building the Renaissance Dam project that aims to hydroelectric generation. Although Ethiopia believes that the building of the dam is a consequence of its sovereign right to benefit from the natural water resources that cross through its territory, the government of Egypt has condemned this action and described it as a violation of the rules of international law and its historical rights. This article seeks to find a settlement to the Egyptian-Ethiopian conflict, by discussing and analysing a number of bilateral agreements regarding the Nile River, in light of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969 and the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Treaties 1978. In addition, the researcher will address in this article the customary international law of international rivers. The researcher in this article concludes that it is difficult to find a settlement to the Egyptian-Ethiopian conflict, since the rules of international law related to the conflict are either insufficient to settle the dispute or they are not applicable to the conflict because of the States parties themselves. The researcher suggests in this article that any settlement of the Egyptian-Ethiopian conflict should be based on reconciling among the positions of the two parties of the conflict, and this compromise may find its way in the rule of " equitable utilization and not harming others", set forth in the Nile Basin Initiative adopted in 1999. However, this rule needs a number of criteria so that it can be applied to the Egyptian-Ethiopian conflict.


Nile River, third party, succession of States, equitable utilization.

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