Governing the Nile River Basin

Governing the Nile River Basin: The Search for a New Legal Regime

Mwangi S. Kimenyi
John Mukum Mbaku
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 150
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Governing the Nile River Basin
    Book Description:

    The effective and efficient management of water is a major problem, not just for economic growth and development in the Nile River basin, but also for the peaceful coexistence of the millions of people who live in the region. Of critical importance to the people of this part of Africa is the reasonable, equitable and sustainable management of the waters of the Nile River and its tributaries.

    Written by scholars trained in economics and law, and with significant experience in African political economy, this book explores new ways to deal with conflict over the allocation of the waters of the Nile River and its tributaries. The monograph provides policymakers in the Nile River riparian states and other stakeholders with practical and effective policy options for dealing with what has become a very contentious problem-the effective management of the waters of the Nile River. The analysis is quite rigorous but also extremely accessible.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2656-2
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 The Political Economy of Transboundary Water Resource Management in Africa
    (pp. 1-4)

    Most African countries have territory that is located in at least one transboundary water basin (see, for example, Lautze and Giordano 2005, p. 1053), and about 62 percent of the continent’s land mass is covered by transboundary water basins (Wolf and others 1999, p. 392). Because of the pervasiveness of transboundary water basins in the continent, “African water management is also, by definition, transboundary water management” (Lautze and Giordano 2005, p. 1054). Hence most water law on the continent has, historically, been transboundary water law.

    One can begin the study of water management in Africa by taking a look at...

  5. 2 Physical Description of the Watercourse and Basin States
    (pp. 5-23)

    The Nile River basin consists of complex ecosystems that are characterized by “high climatic diversity and variability, a low percentage of rainfall reaching the main river, and an uneven distribution of its water resources” (NBI 2012, p. 26). It is home to thousands of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the basin.

    The Nile River basin’s environmental resources and its water provide the basin’s diverse peoples with a rich variety of goods and services and contribute significantly to the region’s gross domestic product. The basin’s system of waterways and wetlands provides both a flight path and...

  6. 3 Setting the Stage for Conflict in the Nile River Basin
    (pp. 24-32)

    Egypt, which boasts one of the oldest civilizations in the world, has sustained itself by extracting and using water from the Nile River (see, for example, Moret 2001). Over the centuries, Egyptians have come to claim “natural and historical rights” (Mekonnen 2010, p. 432) to its waters and resources.¹ Those claims have come to form the core of the conflict that modern Egypt has with upstream riparian states over the allocation and utilization of the waters of the Nile River. As other riparian states gained independence and developed the capacity to access more water from the Nile River and its...

  7. 4 The Nile Waters Agreements: A Critical Analysis
    (pp. 33-45)

    In many societies, the allocation of water and the other resources (for example, the rights to remove and utilize fish or use the river for navigation) of a watercourse has historically been governed by custom and tradition. However, as these societies have become more complex, they have relied on more explicit rules for regulation of the use of water resources. These rules include national laws and institutions and international conventions, protocols, and covenants. However, where access to water resources is governed by written rules, tradition and custom still remain important and continue to influence access to and use of these...

  8. 5 Theories of Treaty Succession and Modern Nile Governance
    (pp. 46-59)

    On various occasions, many upstream Nile River riparian states, including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania, have denied the validity of the agreement signed by the downstream riparians—Egypt and Sudan—in 1959 that effectively reserved all of the waters of the Nile River for themselves and left none for the upstream riparians. In their various declarations, these upstream riparian states have sought to reserve the right to claim the waters of the Nile River in the future for their own national development (Kendie 1999, pp. 147–48; Shapland 1997, pp. 74–75). Since they gained independence, many of these states have...

  9. 6 International Water Law and the Nile River Basin
    (pp. 60-71)

    The management of an international watercourse, such as the Nile River, requires cooperation among all the watercourse’s riparian states. Such cooperation should deal specifically with allocation and use of the watercourse’s resources, including its water. In addition, riparians should formulate basic standards and rules to cooperate on pollution, overexploitation, and ecosystem degradation. An international watercourse convention can provide the foundation for the necessary cooperation between all of the watercourse’s riparian states.

    Examining laws governing or regulating international watercourses can provide insights into how to deal with the Nile River, which itself is an international watercourse. An important international watercourse law...

  10. 7 The Nile Basin Initiative
    (pp. 72-82)

    In 1970 Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat threatened to wage war with the Nile River’s upstream riparian states, if necessary, to prevent any interference with the flow of water into the Nile River. “Tampering with the rights of a nation to water,” he declared, “is tampering with its life; and a decision to go to war on this score is indisputable in the international community” (quoted in Kalpakian 2004, p. 55).¹ Egypt, of course, has gone to war with Ethiopia in the past, in an attempt to stop the latter from building structures on the Blue Nile that would negatively affect...

  11. 8 The Cooperative Framework Agreement: A New Legal Regime for the Nile River?
    (pp. 83-89)

    Can the Nile Basin Initiative’s Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) serve as the new legal instrument for the governance of the Nile River basin? Does the agreement satisfy the requirements of an effective international watercourse law? For the CFA to function as an appropriate legal instrument for governing the use of the waters of the Nile River, it must be acceptable to all of the watercourse’s riparians, properly define each riparian’s rights and obligations, and provide them with appropriate tools to peacefully resolve conflict, especially that related to the distribution of the Nile waters.

    Egypt and Sudan, both downstream riparians, are...

  12. 9 Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Nile River
    (pp. 90-104)

    For thousands of years, Ethiopian authorities have recognized the importance of the Nile River to the survival and vitality of Egyptian agriculture and hence human survival and development in Egypt. In fact, Ethiopian monarchs, “who had a fair awareness of the vitality of the Nile floods for the survival of Egypt, used it as a rough diplomatic whip to pressurize their Egyptian counterparts on matters which then constituted their primary concerns” (Mekonnen 2010, p. 423; see also Erlich 2002). Over the years, these threats have defined the relationship between Egypt and Ethiopia and the other upstream Nile River riparian states....

  13. 10 The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
    (pp. 105-119)

    The veto power over construction projects on the Nile River and its tributaries granted Egypt by the Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1929 was reinforced by the bilateral agreement between Egypt and Sudan signed in 1959.¹ The third paragraph of the introduction to the 1959 agreement states that since the 1929 agreement “provided only for the partial use of the Nile waters and did not extend to include a complete control of the River waters,” Egypt and Sudan agreed, through the 1959 agreement, to increase their respective shares of the waters of the Nile River. The 1959 agreement also introduced the concept...

  14. 11 Governing the Nile River Basin: A Way Forward
    (pp. 120-132)

    At present, the Nile River basin does not have a governance mechanism that is accepted by all the riparian states. The Nile Waters agreements, which are recognized and accepted by the downstream riparians—Egypt and Sudan—but have been rejected by the upstream riparian states, have recognized rights only as between the two parties that are bound by them. The upstream riparians consider the Nile Waters agreements as fostering inequity and unfairness in the allocation of the waters of the Nile River, and they seek to create a new international legal framework for the basin.

    However, given that negotiating and...

  15. References
    (pp. 133-140)
  16. Index
    (pp. 141-146)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 147-147)