On Friday 21st May 2021, a Communication was submitted to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights from US registered NGO, Egyptians Abroad for Democracy, and on behalf of five individual victims. Haydee Dijkstal of 33 Bedford Row Chambers was instructed as international counsel for the submission by the NGO and victims. She was assisted by Annahita Moradi of One Pump Court.
The Communication concerns the actions of the Governments of Egypt and Ethiopia in regards to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the impact of these actions on the human rights within the African Charter of Egyptian citizens who rely on the Nile’s water downstream from the Dam for their livelihoods and development of their property. The victims are Egyptian citizens who own land in Egypt and whose livelihoods are tied to cultivating this land with agriculture and livestock. The focus of the Communication is on the failure of the Governments of Egypt and Ethiopia to meet their obligations to conduct effective consultations with Egyptian citizens who will be impacted by the Dam.
Since 2011, construction and operation of the dam, and high-level negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, have been conducted in the absence of consultations with local communities or efforts to ensure their participation in decisions about the Dam which impact their rights. The Communication raises Ethiopia's unilateral actions to construct, fill and operate the dam before an agreement is reached between the States affected and before studies on the impact of the Dam are completed. It also raises Egypt's failure to conduct open and meaningful consultations while moving forward with inter-state negotiations.
The Communication alleges that Ethiopia and Egypt have violated the rights of the five victims and other Egyptian citizens under the African Charter. The African Commission is asked to find that Ethiopia and Egypt have violated of right to development under Article 22 of the African Chamber, which requires effective and meaningful consultations to properly ensure the right. This violation has significantly impacted other rights under the African Charter, causing further violations to the right to natural resources under Article 21, right to property under Article 14 and right to employment under Article 15.
The Communication also asks for provisional measures which would direct Ethiopia to suspend any proactive steps to continue filling the Dam which would exacerbate the existing water insecurities in Egypt while the Commission considers and decides on the merits of the complaint.