International Law vs. US President Donald Trump comment on ‘The $4.6 Billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’


On Friday October 23, 2020, US President, Donald Trump has made comment on his way during the announcement of normalisation of ties between Sudan and Israel via telephone discussion. He has tried to apply the principles of PACIFIC SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES which is embedded under CHAPTER VI of UN Charter, Article 33/1.
The charter under this article 33 sub-article 1 has stipulated that ‘The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice’. This has to be appreciated so long as it is meant for international peace and security. However, US President, Donald Trump’s way of thinking and action is not consistent across the board.
This means on the one hand, he tried to apply principles of peaceful settlement of disputes while on the other hand; he is breaching the same principle which is a clear manifestation of non-neutrality, bias, double standard and revenge. This is not blackmailing. It is possible to indicate two points.
The first is that the U.S. president Donald Trump earlier this year has told the State Department to suspend millions of dollars in aid to Ethiopia people. He said ‘They will never see that money unless they adhere to that agreement’. It is the manifestation of being annoyed by the action of Ethiopian Government and Ethiopian people to deviate from the way he think and planned in the dam dispute settlement among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, and Ethiopia walked away from those talks and bring the issue to AU. These actions made him to feel shame. Moreover, he was accused of being biased during his earlier efforts to broker a deal on the project among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.
Secondly, during the discussion with Sundance and Israeli officials, he has uttered inappropriate words whether it is intentionally or not on the ‘Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’ project. He said repeatedly ‘They (Egypt) will end up blowing up the dam’. And he said ‘I said it and I say it loud and clear … they’ll blow up that dam. And they have to do something.
He did not know who Ethiopians are. He has failed to recall the battle of Gundet, Gura, and Adwa but, it is clearly a threat to Ethiopian sovereignty which is misguided, unproductive, and clear violations of international law. Moreover, Egypt has repeatedly said that it wants to settle the dispute through diplomatic means, but it has also said that it would use “all available means” to defend its interests.
However, it is not clear whether the expression ‘all available means’ include war or not. Nevertheless, from point of view of Trump, it is unquestionable that the expression “all available means” includes war while he is instigating, inducing, encouraging, fuelling and giving hope for the Government of Egypt to blow up the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. In any case, it is a violation of international law. Let us see how it could be a violation of international law.
Pursuant to UN Charter article 23, United States of America is both a member of UN and permanent member of the Security Council along with the Republic of China, France, Russia, and United Kingdom.
Moreover, according to UN Charter article 1, the Purposes of the United Nations are to maintain international peace and security, and to that end to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of
acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace; to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights
and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace; to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
In addition to these, according to UN Charter Article 2, the Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in the above, shall act in accordance with the following Principles. Such as: the Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members; all Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter of UN; all Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered; all Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations; all Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action; the Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security; nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.
Therefore, if one made analysis on what US President Donald Trump has said and the way he tried to instigate, induce, encourage, fuel and sponsor the war and conflict, and give hope for the Government of Egypt to blow up the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, it is unquestionable that it is in violation of international law, inter alia, charter of UN article 23, 1 and 2.
Hence, what to be done in the future is the question to be answered. 1st. All Ethiopians living in US must participate in the election company of 2020, convince other African fellows, and give vote for Biden and remove Trump from White House. Moreover, conduct protest against Trump all over America and Europe. Secondly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia must demand an official explanation from Trump administration and give detail explanation and government stand on the matter. Thirdly, the Ethiopian Government has to bring the issue to the attention of AU and UN Security Council. Forth, domestically, all Ethiopians, civic societies, political parties, and religious organisations has act jointly against Trump actions and inactions. I wish a happy reading. You are welcome for any comments or suggestions.