The United Nations Watercourses Convention from the Ethiopian Context: Better to Join or Stay Out?

  • Andualem Eshetu Lema
Keywords: equitable use, framework convention, Nile basin, riparian, significant harm, watercourses


The 1997 Watercourses Convention is the first and the only worldwide instrument nacted under the auspice of the United Nations as far as the non-navigational uses f international watercourses is concerned. Although the Convention has entered in to force in 2014 after seventeen years of its adoption, many watercourse states are till hesitant to join the Convention. Given the divergent views of the respective ountries towards the provisions of the Convention coupled with the existing tension nd lack of genuine trust among downstream vis-à-vis upstream blocks, none of the ile riparian states are currently parties to the Convention. The article is thus aimed o examine whether joining to or staying out from the Convention provides a betteroff osition for Ethiopia particularly in its relation with the two downstream ountries-Egypt and Sudan. Owing to the confusing and downstream favored rovisions of the Convention coupled with the Egyptians’ long lasting adherence to istoric right based argument, the article asserted that the move to join the onvention might be expensive for Ethiopia which may force it to pay unnecessary ills for the advantages of the two downstream countries. Therefore, I argue that it is etter for Ethiopia to stay out from the Convention and the complexities thereto while expecting at least ‘a half and a loaf’ from the application of the customary nternational water law regime, if there is any.