Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Nile conflict | International Law

Last week, we were talking about the different water conflicts in the world. One of these conflicts takes place in the Nile basin. Trying to know more about this topic, I found an interesting article by Lester R.Brown, the president of the Earth Policy Institute and the author of “World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse”.
In this author´s opinion, there is the possibility of a new conflict in Africa because countries such as Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, and India are acquiring huge tracts of land to produce wheat, rice, and corn for consumption back home. These takings of land reduce the food supply in the African countries, which are prone to famine; this also threatens the newest democracy in Africa: Egypt.
Egypt is one of the leading wheat importers in the world and, while it is trying to function as a democracy after President Mubarak departure, these leases of land are threatening their ability to feed their population because all the grain in Egypt is imported or produced with Nile water.
For these reasons, the conditions established in the Nile Waters Agreement of 1959 are changing, as the rich foreign governments and international firms have come into play.
The Nile´s natural limits are being broken because of the increase of the water demand owing to the demographic growth and the foreign acquisitions of land. In this sense, it is necessary to try to avoid international conflicts over water. This author suggests three different initiatives:
First, governments must address the population threat head-on by ensuring that all women have access to family planning services and by providing education for girls in the region. Second, countries must adopt more water-efficient irrigation technologies and plant less water-intensive crops.
Finally, for the sake of peace and future development cooperation, the nations of the Nile River Basin should come together to ban land grabbed by foreign governments and agribusiness firms. Since there is no precedent for this, international help in negotiating such a ban, similar to the World Bank’s role in facilitating the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan, would likely be necessary to make it a reality.
I agree with this author because I think it is necessary to control the increasing trend towards the liberalization of the purchase of African lands, including its diversity and water resources by the other countries. This is because these takings are accompanied by the expulsion of peasant and indigenous people who inhabit these lands and may even increase the problem of famine, which is a reality in Africa nowadays that the international community should face.
For many people in this area, the water is the big difference between a farm or just a desert. The Nobel Prize Winner Anwar El Sadat stated that water is the only reason that Egypt would go to war. However, will this problem be the reason for a war or a violent conflict in the future? I hope that the increasing scarcity of water leads all these nations to the understanding that the cooperation path

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