Sat. Dec 9th, 2023


In the context of the Ethiopia Renaissance Dam dispute, the concept of self-defense is not applicable to Egypt

On March 13, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stated that his country “maintains the right to protect its people’s capabilities and interests, considering all options and alternatives.” However, the principle of self-defense does not apply to Egypt in the Renaissance Dam dispute.

Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which concerns the state of self-defense, is inapplicable to the Egyptian case. The article is precise, unambiguous, and limiting, exclusively addressing “armed aggression.”

The minister appears not to have thoroughly assessed the legality of using force in the Egyptian-Ethiopian disagreement, as he did not carefully examine Article 51 of the United Nations Charter or the “Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam” agreement, signed by Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia in Khartoum in 2015.

The United Nations Charter, in its second article, underscores the peaceful resolution of disputes between states and the prevention of using armed force to settle any international disputes, which was the norm before the era of the League of Nations (1920-1946) and the United Nations.

Article 33 of the United Nations Charter outlines various peaceful means for resolving international disputes, including negotiations, mediation, conciliation, inquiry, international courts, international arbitration, and recourse to international and regional agencies and organizations, among others.

It appears improbable that Egypt will approach the UN Security Council for a third time, as the Council has previously refused to meet Egyptian demands due to their irrational nature against Ethiopia. This makes a third appeal an unrealistic and politically infeasible option. Most of the UN Security Council’s past responses to Egypt’s appeals have taken the form of a “presidential statement.”

This statement is primarily a “political statement” expressing the will of the Security Council’s member states, issued by the Council’s President. It does not equate to a “political recommendation” or a “Security Council resolution” under Chapter VI. Therefore, the presidential statement serves as an official statement preserved in the Security Council’s archives. In the future, the Council can reference this statement if it intends to issue a “binding decision” on a conflict or situation that threatens international peace and security.

The five countries, such as the United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain, have expressed a clear stance, which became evident prior to the last session of the UN Security Council: peaceful means to resolve the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are the sole option, and no alternative exists outside diplomatic frameworks. The Russian delegate in the Security Council specifically emphasized this point.

These countries have all released official statements, some in Cairo and others in their respective capitals, emphasizing the importance of utilizing peaceful means to settle disputes in addressing the Renaissance Dam dispute.

Article: Asrat Berhanu

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By Chala Dandessa

I am Lecturer, Researcher and Freelancer. I am the founder and Editor at ETHIOPIANS TODAY website. If you have any comment use as email contact. Additionally you can contact us through the contact page of

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