Table of Contents

Water and the Law

Water and the Law

Towards Sustainability

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series

Edited by Michael Kidd, Loretta Feris, Tumai Murombo and Alejandro Iza

Water and the Law examines the critical relationship between law and the management of water resources in the context of ensuring environmental sustainability. It highlights the central importance of integrated water resources management and cooperation in achieving sustainability. The book considers two broad themes: how law can contribute to the sustainability of water itself and how the law’s regulation of water can contribute to the sustainability of life – both human life as well as that of other species in their natural environment.

Chapter 4: The complexities of developing a transboundary water resources management agreement: experiences from the Nile Basin

Emmanuel B. Kasimbazi

Subjects: environment, environmental governance and regulation, environmental law, water, law - academic, environmental law, water law


The development of a comprehensive agreement for the Nile Basin has been riddled with various complexities. Its development is traceable from the colonial period when Britain, the colonial power that controlled most of the Nile Basin countries, set out to secure the waters of the Nile for the benefit of Egypt. It also realized the needs of the Sudan, the northern regions of which were as arid as most of Egypt. Britain sought to achieve this by entering into agreements with other European colonial powers on behalf of Egypt. In both cases, the presumption was that the upper riparian states such as Uganda and Ethiopia that have an equatorial climate with rain did not need the Nile waters for irrigation. The most recent negotiations of the Nile Basin countries for a River Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) were started in 1997 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The main goal of these negotiations was to achieve a multilateral legal framework that is the foundation of a permanent river basin organization called the Nile Basin Commission. In 2010, the Agreement was finalized and to date only six countries out of ten have signed it. The countries that have signed are: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan have not signed and Eritrea remains an observer. Article 42 of the Agreement requires deposit of the ratification instrument with the African Union by a sixth country for the Agreement to enter into force.

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