International Law and the Challenges of Transboundary Watercourses Governance: The Blue Nile Dam Controversy

  • Mahir Al BannaEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Science, Technology & Innovation book series (ASTI)


Water—as an international public good—is at the core of sustainable development, and it is critical for socioeconomic development, healthy ecosystems, and for human survival itself. Many of river basin international organizations have been established by riparian States with the purpose of more effectively and sustainably govern their shared water resources. However, their achievements in ensuring sustainability in the use of water resources in their respective basins vary considerably: while some seem to be more successful in solving water-specific collective action problems and sustainability challenges, another fail. In international law, States enjoy sovereignty to exploit natural resources on their territory, insofar as such exploitation does not cause harm to neighboring States. The 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses entered into force on August 17, 2014. However, three of upstream and downstream African States: Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia have not yet joined it. Sudan and Egypt have been advantaged by the 1959 Treaty signed between the two countries, thus totally excluding the other Nile Basin States. The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Blue Nile Dam) is now a national pride for Ethiopia which will generate power and constitute a better supply in electricity. If it is considered as a significant step in terms of sustainable development for the country and Africa as well, it is regarded in Egypt as an imminent danger to its Nile water. This study analysis the principles of international law related to transboundary watercourses governance in analyzing the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UNWC) (Part I), and in focusing on the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the mutual relations between the Nile river riparian States (Part II).


International water law 1997 United Nations watercourses convention Sovereignty Grand Ethiopian renaissance dam Nile basin states Sustainable development Countermeasures Use of force 



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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American University in the EmiratesDubaiUAE

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