GoJIL Vol. 3, No. 1 (2011)
Between the Scylla of Water Security and Charybdis of Benefit Sharing: The Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement – Failed or Just Teetering on the Brink?
Dereje Zeleke Mekonnen
The threat of water-related conflicts is comparatively more real and serious in the Middle East and North Africa hydrographic region where the Nile is found. Ominous predictions about water being the next casus belli in the region abound. There are many conflict determinants in the Nile basin which lend much credence to the predictions and the basin’s proneness to conflict is quite evident. The unprecedented positive rapport brought about by the launching of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) and the enormous hope and optimism evoked by its lofty Shared Vision explain the unprecedented serenity and cooperative atmosphere the basin has witnessed over the past decade. The decade-long effort to work out and agree on an inclusive legal and institutional framework for the basin has, due to the cunning interpolation of the treacherous, non-legal concept of ‘water security’, ended up in failure., The subsequent shift to and endorsement of benefit sharing as an alternative, simple and cure-all solution to the Nile waters question has further dimmed the prospect for the realization of the Shared Vision which now sounds more like a pipe dream than a realizable vision. Whether these adverse developments would finally pave the way for the ominous predictions to come to pass is as much unlikely as it is perplexing. It will be argued, in this paper, that the likelihood of violent conflicts over the Nile waters is an unlikely scenario, the more likely turn of events being further continuation of the iniquitous status quo.
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