At the outset, I would like to warmly welcome His Excellency Mr. Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, His Excellency Dr. Seleshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity of Ethiopia and Her Excellency Ms. Asmaa Mohammed Abdalla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Sudan, to this meeting.
I welcome Mr. Paul Empele, Chargé d'affaires of Democratic Republic of Congo, on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union, to this meeting.
I would also like to thank Mr. Parfait Onanga, SRSG for the Horn of Africa and Ms. Inger Anderson, Director-General of UNEP, for their insightful briefings.
1. Water resources play a critical role in supporting the livelihoods of billions of people on earth and countless ecosystems. Sustainable and equitable use of water resources is vital to secure peace, stability and economic development as well as the protection of nature.
Therefore, we are concerned about the tendency that many international watercourses have been increasingly utilised in a manner that may not ensure the legitimate rights and interests of riparian countries, especially downstream countries. The adverse effects of this tendency, compounded by those of climate change, have posed significant challenges to security, stability and development of many regions, including in Africa, where the lives of millions of people depend on shared rivers.
We believe that the use of water resouces for development purposes is a legitimate right of any concerned party, be it a water-surplus or water-deficit country. We also believe that best practices on transboundary watercourses include the adequate exchange of views, consultations and full implementation of legal frameworks among concerned stakeholders, to address outstanding issues. Furthermore, the utilisation of international watercourses must be in line with international law and commitments of concerned countries, on the basis of harmonizing the interests of riparian states upstream and downstream to ensure the sustainable use and equitable share of water resources.
We would like to emphasise the importance of fostering further codification and development of international law regarding the sustainable use of transboundary watercourses, including through implementing the United Nations Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses.
2. As to the Blue Nile river, we take note of the positions of the relevant parties, including those as elaborated in the letters addressed to the President of the Security Council recently.
We support the efforts of the parties directly concerned to promote sustainable and equitable utilisation of water resources, including through cooperation, consultations and negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project.
It is our wish that all parties concerned build upon achieved results and fully implement the 2015 Agreement on Declaration of Principles on the project. We take note of the efforts by all sides over the last year in their negotiations. Given the ongoing fragile situation in the region, it is however important that related parties uphold the principle of settling disputes through peacefull means, continue their dialogue and meaningful negotiation, take into account the views and legitimate interests of each other, in the spirit of neighborly brotherhood and good faith as well as in accordance with international law and the 2015 Agreement.
3. As having stated time and again, we always support the important role of the African Union (AU) in upholding its responsibility and promoting negotiations and mediation on issues of its region, as shown over the last year on the GERD issue. Given the continued stalemate, we are of the view that it is high time that the AU accelerates its efforts in assisting the three parties to resolve the remaining issues, including legal and technical questions. In this connection, all parties should refrain from any unilateral measure that might escalate tension and undermine the opportunity to achieve a negotiated solution to the issue.
I thank you, President./.