Sustainable development and the right to the Nile
By Mohamed S. M. Yassin (ST)
PhD Research Program in Economics, Ecology, Landscape and Territory
University of Udine, Italy
The Nile River is a geographically, historically, socio-economically, environmentally, politically, culturally, hydro-logically, climatically, demographically and naturally shared river of transboundary dimensions within the current composing states. The Nile Basin constituted and continues to sustain and be the major driver of the development and stability for its inhabitants, as it has been an umbilical cord, backbone and the cradle of ancient and prosperous civilizations. The Nile basin is composed of eleven different states or countries namely; Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, The Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, which composes landscape realities of diverse developmental status, with prospects of political economy, constitutional structure, juridical systems, governance systems, physical nature and situations of human rights aspects. The resources allocation and exploitations within the Nile Basin have led to the formations of heterogeneous developmental territories and states. The last decades witnessed the race to reach the universally established Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are strongly and imperatively needed for the populations of the Nile Basin. Despite the partial achievements of the MDGs, the newly set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remain a hard task. As development is needed for peace and peace is need for development, neither peace nor development could be attained without respect of the fundamental human rights.
This article focuses on, the “Right to the Nile” an issue that is gaining momentum as the apparently conflictive relationship between the growing populations, economies and improvement of developmental prospective and nature conservation. The Nile Basin’s complex challenges and potential opportunities should be tackled by (and not only) the strategic planners and policy-and-decision-makers together with the democratic leadership in an accurate and deep long-term planning and comprehensive vision to guide the upcoming transformative process and to capture the opportunity to attain the SDGs. This article is an attempt to shed a more comprehensive light and foresights on some critical issues in the Nile Basin associated with the right to development and right to the Nile. The thesis in this article is sustaining that the Nile Basin is mainly but not merely water. Furthermore, it is calling for attributing due importance and value to the distinguished single and collective tangible and intangible resources of the land, water, climate, biodiversity, fauna, flora, and humans inhibiting that ecologies and forming the Nilotic diverse territories who deserve to live in enabling environment assuring dignity, respected human rights, sustainable development and prosperity.
Keywords: Nile Basin, Universal Human Rights, Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals, Right to Development, Right to the Nile.
The River Nile is 6.695 km length covering a basin area of 3.176.543 squared km as in the Nile Basin Initiative reports , while Bowden Rob stated that the Nile River is the longest River in the world with total river length as 6.670 Km . There are multiple sources originating from different riparian states forming the Nile Basin. Ripon Fall may be the starting-point of the Nile, but any streams that flow into Lake Victoria (the indigenous name is Nyanza) could claim to be the true source. Streams tumble down from a chain of mountains that cross central Africa and surround much of Lake Victoria, the Kagera River and its tributary the Ruvubu with its headwaters in Burundi are now considered the true source of the Nile [2, 3]. It is from here that the Nile is measured as the world’s longest river (Bowden Rob) [2, 3]. The same Bowden Rob in his book settlements of the River Nile mentioned that the majestic River Nile is the longest river in the world and it stretches for an incredible 6.650 Km [2, 3]. The Nile basin is composed of eleven different countries namely; Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The Nile Basin communities are graced with huge endowments and paradoxically suffer poverty, food and nutrition insecurity despite these endowments. The efficient and effective use, management and investments in the resources of the Nile Basin is a major and complex challenge for the economic, social, environmental, ecological, political and cultural growth and development for the people and communities inhibiting the Nile Basin region. It is vital for the peaceful coexistence of the growing population almost approaching 41% of the population of the African continent and the growing percentage projected to reach 10 % of the world population will be living in Nile Basin region . This percentage of Nile Basin population were only 3% during the decade of their independence, jumped to 5% the time when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set, reached 6% when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are formulated and projected to be 8% by the deadline year of the 2030 Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals) . Thus the development plans should neglect this fact and policy-and-decision-makers cannot trample over the Nile Basin people right to development.
Demographic Structure of the Nile Basin Countries (NBCs) and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita:
The Nile Basin countries and communities have shown huge demographic leaps as shown in table 1.
Source: Author elaboration and extractions from the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. (2012). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision, CD-ROM Edition.
In the 1950’s Egypt and Sudan stipulated their 1959 Agreement to share the Nile water aiming at boosting their development when their total population was oscillating around 30 million and the period when the Nile Basin Initiative started the discussion and dialogue about the Cooperation Framework Agreement (CFA) the population of Egypt and Sudan jointly counted around 100 million inhabitants in the mean time the rest of the Nile Basin countries and communities have shown huge demographic leaps. For wise developmental policies setting it is worth to consider that the total Nile Basin population including Egypt and Sudan were around 85 million in 1950 and leaped to around 470 million in 2015 and continues to grow at a considerable rates and pace (table 1). Therefore, a per capita share of save and drinkable water should be reconsidered and continuously updated, and revised. And thus, appropriate, equitable and sustainable policies towards the achievement of sustainable development is imperative through wise uses of the available and potential resources, sustainable management of the lands, water, biodiversity, climate, and above all the human capital, in addition to a transparent and mutually fair and responsible investments and partnerships for the mutual benefits and prosperity of all the Nile Basin communities.
In the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC33), a side event was jointly organized by the International Lawyers Organization and the collectif de femmes pour les droits de l’homme on the 27th September 2016 in room xxiv at the palais des nations and the one and half hours were dedicated to discuss the question “The Greater Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) impedes the Right to Water? And the author thinks that was posed in the framework of the right to safe drinkable water and sanitation. It seems that the GERD per se is not the real motivation to be adopted by the UN HRC33 but the global right to access to safe drinkable water and sanitation is the stake. To bring informative notions about this event, the author poses the summary of the session to let allow better understanding of the whereabouts of this mobilization. The organizers summarized the session and basically three speakers were programmed to intervene to tackle this complex question. The panellists included Dr. Asfaw Beyene, Dr. Ahmed el Mofty (written intervention) and Mr. Mostafa Ashour. In the summary, it is written that the construction of the Dam, which started in April 2011, raises issues about threats to the human right to water of individuals who depend on the Nile waters for their livelihood. The three experts discussed the problem from the legal, political and technical perspectives respectively, while acknowledging that the Right to Water as a basic human right must be safeguarded throughout the project by all riparian states and stressing on the need to find a mechanism for cooperation in time among the Nile basin countries. Dr. Asfaw expressed his concerns during the event by highlighting 6 controversies of the project. First of all, the electricity production target of GERD would not be reached as it is predicted for now, which means that the economic value of the dam is overestimated. Furthermore, he discussed about the length of the filling period and the associating risks when the timing is not managed properly. One of the biggest concerns is the environmental impact of the Dam on the surrounding regions as it would cause a microenvironment with unknown consequences and the affected regions will also be subject to natural disasters induced by landscape movements. Dr. Mofty approached the issue from a legal perspective. He affirmed that the Right to Water as a fundamental human right must be respected at all times and for all people and it is manifested in UN Resolution and various international treaties. He is concerned that the construction of the Dam would breach the international law and endanger the current regional peace and security. Mr. Ashour addressed the political significance of the GERD project and acknowledged that it is of great importance for the countries to cooperate in good faith in order to avoid possible disastrous outcome and realize the regional prosperity for all. On this note of cooperation, the side event was concluded and followed by an interactive questions and comments session with the audience raising concerns from different angles, which deepened the discussion in a constructive manner.
The Author contacted the event organizers and speaker to seek more details and answers. One of the contacted stakeholders, who is a professor in a USA University answered that ‘The dam can infringe on the right of water and he wrote (I don’t necessarily buy the concept of water right, water is a need of life that shouldn’t be degenerated to exercise of political right). It stores water, and it is the extent of the storage and its intensity that is a matter of dispute. It can be stored in a manner it wouldn’t impede water rights’. Previously he published that the 1959 Agreement allotted 55.5 and 18.5 billion cubic meters to Egypt and the Sudan, respectively, through the Blue and Atbara Rivers. Ethiopia has limited rights to use these resources. In May 2010, upstream states of the Nile signed a Cooperative Framework Agreement pronouncing the 1959 Agreement no longer valid and claiming rights to more water from the River Nile while Egypt and Sudan refused to sign. Thus, there is no mutually accepted water treaty between upstream and downstream countries. Flourishing irrigation projects and dam constructions in the Sudan and Egypt, while these same countries object the use of Nile by upstream countries, will have little convincing power in Africa and the rest of the world, even if it can’t convince Arab countries whose firm solidarity remains with the Sudan .
Developmentally speaking, all the Nile Basin Countries are vulnerable and need to continue their paths towards securing their people, in terms of food and nutrition, and other developmental fronts. It is clear that the vast majority of the Nile Basin States are currently low-income countries as shown in graph (1).
Graph 1. The Nile Basin Countries GDP per capita (Current US$).
Source: Author elaboration and extractions from the World Bank Data: World Development Indicators, Last Updated Date: 10/14/2016. 
If we consider the GDP per capita of the member states of the Nile Basin we can notice that the gap between Egypt and relatively South Sudan and Sudan and the rest of the Nile Basin states (graph 1). Therefore, equitable, reasonable and sustainable allocation of the Nile Basin resources by policy-and-decision-makers and associated stakeholders will avoid morphing of conflicts and assist in constructive transformations in the Nile Basin.
‘In 1974 at the height of the energy crisis, a member of the Kenyan Parliament suggested that the Nile be harnessed at Lake Victoria and the water sold for oil, barrel for barrel. Since neither Sudan nor Egypt produced oil at the time, the threat remained nothing more than a bad Joke. With Ethiopia, however, the threat is real’ as reported by the late Agricultural Economist Dr. de Mabior in his PhD thesis . The oil producing countries can responsibly invest in water-and-resource-endowed countries fairly, valuing the connected resources necessary for the agro-food, environmental services and animal production from which they are assuring their food and nutrition security. Food and nutrition security is one of the major causes of the complex resource grabbing marathon as well as the climate change adaptation and mitigation; the energy and water security; the demographic instability, the social and economic needs, the ecological foundation security, and the regional polarization, among others. Resource grabbing is a complexity directly associated with the ownership and foreign direct investments. It is a challenging issue for the international juridical system in terms of transparency, accountability, fight against corruption, money laundering, human rights and national sovereignty, international development cooperation and humanitarian integrity. Doubtless, resource grabbing will lead to non-sustainability in the sense that it deprives the interested population from their fundamental human rights and well being .
Review, view and vision of the Right to Development under the Nile Basin Developmental Landscape: The Rights to Development and the Nile
As it is mentioned in the Declaration on the Right to Development, adopted by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 41/128 of 4 December 1986, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which reaffirms the right to development as a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of every human right; UN Human Rights Council resolutions 4/4 of 30 March 2007 and 9/3 of 17 September 2008, and recalling all Council and General Assembly resolutions on the right to development, the most recent being Council resolution 30/28 of 2 October 2015 and Assembly resolution 70/155 of 17 December 2015, in addition to all the resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights on the right to development, including resolutions 1998/72 of 22 April 1998 and 2004/7 of 13 April 2004, in support of the implementation of the right to development. The right to development is an added human right to the core human rights reported in the Charter of the United Nations, and particularly in the Nile Basin the right to development could not be considered in segregation from the Right to the Nile.
The right to development is a right to the Nile as it is embedded in the core objectives of the Nile Basin Initiative, which are (i) To develop the Nile Basin water resources in a sustainable and equitable way to ensure prosperity, security, and peace for all its peoples; (ii) To ensure efficient water management and the optimal use of the resources; (iii) To ensure cooperation and joint action between the riparian countries, seeking win-win gains; (iv) To target poverty eradication and promote economic integration; and (v) To ensure that the program results in a move from planning to action .
All the Nile Basin states have welcomed the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasizing that the 2030 Agenda is informed by the Declaration on the Right to Development and that the right to development provides a vital enabling environment for the full realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore they have recognized that achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the unmet MDGs and the SDGs, requires effective policy coherence and coordination, and that hunger and extreme poverty, in all its forms and dimensions, are the greatest global challenges and require the collective commitment of the international community for their eradication, and therefore calling upon the international community to contribute to the achievement of that goal, in accordance with the SDGs, and emphasized that all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and underlined that the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals will require the strengthening of a new, more equitable and sustainable national and international order, as well as the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In fact, the Right to development is a commitment declared by a number of United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes and other international organizations to make the right to development a reality for all, and in this regard urging all relevant bodies of the United Nations system and other international organizations such as the Nile Basin Initiative to mainstream the right to development into their objectives, plans, policies, programmes and operational and financial activities, in particular into development and development-related processes, including the follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, stressing the primary responsibility of States for the creation of national and international conditions favourable to the realization of the right to development, and recognizing that Member States of the United Nations, Nile Basin states included, should cooperate with each other in ensuring development and eliminating lasting obstacles to development, that the international community should promote effective international cooperation, in particular global partnerships for development, for the realization of the right to development and the elimination of all the obstacles to development, and that lasting progress towards the implementation of the right to development requires effective and efficient development policies at the national level, as well as equitable economic relations and a favourable economic environment at the international level.
For that purpose all Member States of the United Nations and Nile Basin states in particular are encouraged to engage constructively in the discussions for the full implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development with a view to overcoming the existing political impasses within the working groups on the Right to Development, thus affirming that aftermath of the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development presents a unique opportunity for the international community to demonstrate and reiterate its unequivocal commitment to the right to development, recognizing the high profile it deserves, and redoubling, if not more, its efforts to implement this right.
To frame argumentation that the right to development is within the right the to the Nile, or in simple phrase that “The right to the Nile is a fundamental universal human right”, a possible justification for this argument is that the Nile is the major stake behind the development and prosperity of passed, living and coming civilizations for all its riparian states. It is an imperative right of current and future generation to find sound, healthy and sustainable Nile Basin. As it a primary responsibility of the Nile Basin states and community to promote and protect civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and all the human rights including the right to development and naturally the Right to the Nile is integrative part of all these rights. The right to development is an added human right to the core human rights reported in the Charter of the United Nations, and particularly in the Nile Basin the right to development could not be considered in segregation from the Right to the Nile.
The UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015 adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, aiming at including all and without leaving anyone behind and the Nile Basin is part of this ongoing process. However, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remain a hard task to and for all the Nile Basin riparian states, governments, civil society, international community, development organizations, global institutions and above all the very populated Nile Basin communities.
Therefore, the Nile Basin states should emphasize the urgent need to make the right to development as a reality for everyone, and that all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, can only be enjoyed in an inclusive and collaborative framework, at the international, regional and national levels, and in this regard underlining the importance of engaging the United Nations system, including United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes, within their respective mandates, relevant international organizations, including financial and trade organizations, and relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations, development practitioners, human rights experts, academia, private sector and the public at all levels, in discussions on the right to development in the Nile Basin.
Under this prospective, the Nile Basin community and the collectively the constituting Nile Basin riparian states, being integral and inseparable part of the International Community should be stressing that the responsibility for managing worldwide economic and social issues and threats to international peace and security must be shared among the nations of the world and should be exercised multilaterally, and that, in this regard, the central role must be played by a Nile Basin Commission and the United Nations as the most universal and representative organization in the world.
The Nile Basin states, should work seriously on the institution-building the of the Nile Basin Community and transform the Nile Basin Initiative and the annexed or related civil society organizations and partners into a Nile Basin Commission with clear mandate to enhance and sustain the development and fully engage in the 2030 Agenda of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). To implement this mandate a series of prioritized operational steps should be designed and well planned. Surely that is achievable endorsing genuine cooperation spirit in coordination with inter-and-intra-agencies within the United Nations system in conjunction with the Nile Basin Institutions that have direct relevance to the realization of the right to development, providing analyses of SDGs implementation, taking into account the existing challenges, constraints and making recommendations on how to overcome them and capture the potential common opportunities endowed by the Nile Basin as territorial capital. Operationally and practically ad hoc commissions and working groups could be formed to follow up the implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development, to take sufficient measures to ensure balanced and visible allocation of resources and due attention to ensure the visibility of the right to development by identifying and implementing tangible projects dedicated to the right to development, and to provide regular updates to the concerned stakeholders and local communities in this regard.
It will be essential to recognize the need for renewed efforts towards intensifying deliberations in the inspired implementing commission, (eventually the Nile Basin Commission or Sub-basin Commissions), and working groups to fulfil, at the earliest, its developmental mandate as established. Furthermore, acknowledge the need to strive for greater acceptance, operationalization and realization of the right to development at the international level while urging all Nile Basin riparian States to undertake at the national level the necessary policy formulation and to institute the measures required for the implementation of the right to development and the attainment of the SDGs as an integral part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Nile Basin community has unique opportunities to celebrate and commemorate, mainstream the Declaration on the Right to Development, and its inclusion into human rights, in conjunction with the adoption of “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and human rights, with an emphasis on the right to development”, which provides a unique opportunity to international community and Nile Basin member states to demonstrate and reiterate their political commitment, accord the right to development the great attention it deserves and to redouble or augment their efforts towards the realization of the right to development, set standards for the implementation of the right to development as useful basis for further deliberations on the implementation and realization of the right to development. They should advance considering criteria and operational sub-criteria with a view to finalizing texts and/or elaborations and formulations concerning the progressive implementation, reporting and follow-up of the 2030 SDGs agenda normally prepare-able in the international community fora. They should facilitate active participation of experts from the Nile Basin community, provide advice with a view to contributing to discussions on the implementation and realization of the right to development, including the implications of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and looks forward to the possible engagement of the formed working groups with high-level socio-political forum.
Surely, the decision is for the Nile Basin states to continue to act to ensure that its agenda 2030 promotes and advances sustainable development and the achievement of the remaining and unmet Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals and, in this regard, lead to raising the right to development in the framework of the human rights and fundamental freedoms. It remains for the Nile Basin community to endorse and provide recommendations of the Human Rights Council to finalize consideration of the criteria and operational sub-criteria in relation to the elaboration of a comprehensive and coherent set of standards for the implementation of the right to development, and also take appropriate steps to ensure respect for the practical application of these standards, which could take various forms, including guidelines on the implementation of the right to development, and evolve into a basis for consideration of an innovative international legal standard of a binding nature, through a collaborative process of engagement.
It will be imperative for the Nile Basin community to contribute to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right to development in the context of the coherent and integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other internationally agreed outcomes of 2015, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and to this effect, engage with member states of the international community and other stakeholders and participate in relevant international meetings and conferences. Additionally, engage and support efforts to mainstream the right to development among various United Nations bodies, development agencies, international development, financial and trade institutions, and to submit proposals aimed at strengthening the revitalized global partnership for sustainable development from the perspective of the right to development among the Nile Basin states.
Furthermore, the Nile Basin Community should encourage relevant bodies of the United Nations system, within their respective mandates, including United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes, relevant international organizations, and relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations, to give due consideration to the right to development in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to contribute further to the work of the already working groups and to cooperate with the High Commissioner and the Special Rapporteur in the fulfilment of their mandates with regard to the implementation of the right to development.
The Nile Basin Community can learn from the experiences of the shared resources communities such as the European Union (EU) which has reiterated its support for the Right to Development, as based on the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, the multidimensional nature of development strategies and the individuals as the central subjects of the development process. As stated by the EU, the Right to Development requires the full realisation of civil and political rights together with the economic, social and cultural rights and requires a mix of policies, creating an enabling environment for individuals, involving a wide range of actors, at different levels. Highlighting the importance of a rights-based approach to development, encompassing all human rights including the Right to Development, and emphasising that the primary responsibility for ensuring that the right to development is realised and owed by States to their citizens. The Nile Basin community can be operational in recognition of the right to development and advancing the implementation of the SDGs 2030 agenda, in consensus, avoiding duplications and in harmonization with other national and regional and continental mechanisms and agenda, such as the 2063 African Union (AU) Agenda.
To score significant and tangible achievements in the SDGs, the Nile Basin community must augment its ownership of the developmental and prosperity paths and intensify its efforts to recruit indigenous and external teams with adequate qualifications, relevant experience, expertise, independence, impartiality, personal integrity, objectivity, availability and motivation in compliance with relevant provisions of Human Rights mandatory institutions and have its tailored and innovative ones, providing inputs for the preparations of thematic studies/reports; assisting in policy dialogues on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals and to advise the Nile Basin States, intergovernmental organizations such as the Nile Basin Initiative, civil society such as the Nile Basin Discourse, among others, and the local communities and other stakeholders on the effective respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights of those impacted by the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to undertake thematic research on the effective implementation of SDGs and its particular focus on the targets. Therefore, providing inputs for the preparations of thematic studies/reports; assisting in policy dialogues on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals and providing substantive assistance in the development of questionnaires and conduct e-consultations and field-research for data collection with a view to gather, request, receive and exchange information and communications from and with all relevant sources, including the Nile Basin States, their representative organizations and any other parties, relating to effective measures to ensure respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights of those impacted by the implementations of the SDGs agenda to prepare recommendations under guidance of the competent institutions and bodies. Surely, as a Nile Basin Community there will be divergent views in the understanding of the Right to Development, therefore, convergence, consensus and trust building and reconciliations are imperative for reaching a democratically and deliberatively common position through really genuine dialogue and mobilization. Taking into consideration the fundamental differences on issues such as the role of the conventional developmental indicators, the content of the Right to Development, its implications as well as appropriate instruments to realize the inspired development in the framework of the SDGs and the Right to the Nile is crucial in this orientation towards common prosperity. That should be done avoiding duplication of the already existing mechanisms, creating more coordination, synergy, and collective harmony without dissipation of energies and resources.
The Nile Basin prospective to the human rights should continues to update and encompass the right to the adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to non-discrimination; the right to land; the right to peace and stability; the right to non-displacement; the right to clean water and sanitation; the right to participate in culture; the right to food; the right to work and receive education; the right to the protection of the cultural heritage; the right of the indigenous peoples; the rights of the peasants; and right to the protection from the hazardous waste; the right to preventing maternal mortality and morbidity; the rights of the older persons; the right to the transitional justice; all the substantive rights to life, to fair trail, and freedom from torture, from fear, from slavery jointly taken with the basic and fundamental rights to self-determination, liberty, due process of law, freedom of movement, of thought, of religion, of expression, of assembly, and of association; freedom to enjoy the fruits of responsible investments in the indigenous resources, freedom to enjoy the outcomes of the scientific research. In addition to all bills of the rights recently discussed and endorsed in the resolutions of the United Nation Human Rights Council, which considers that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language or other status. Naturally bearing in mind and heart the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) , which is the foundation of the international system of protection for human rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10th, 1948 and consists of 30 articles which establish the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of all people with a vision for human dignity that transcends political boundaries and authority, committing governments to uphold the fundamental rights of every and each person.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Nile Basin
The MDGs (Table 2) were believed to form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions as they have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest as mentioned by the UN . The MDGs were ranging from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. These MDGs were described as S.M.A.R.T, i.e. Simple, Measurable, Actionable, Reachable and Time-bounded. Despite all that, much was unmet, especially by the 10 Nile Basin States (before the independence of the Republic of South Sudan, the 11th Nile Basin States community member) and the newly independent republic of South Sudan and being a new 11th Nile Basin States community member.
Table 2: The United Nations Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals:
Important blame on the failure to achieve the MDGs is shouldered to the global crises and conflicts active in the Nile Basin States, and the lack of development finance either from the very Basin States and/or the International Community, however, those challenges were though about and dealt with in the Addis Ababa Agenda for financing development in 2015, and the Nile Basin have to exert their best efforts to catch up with the developmental or developmental gap accumulated.
The developmental pendulum in the Nile Basin swings back and forth between the countries of the sources of the Nile and the countries of destination in the Nubia often referred to as upstream and downstream countries; nonetheless, it swings left and right between the Blue and White tributaries. This natural swinging and interplay is influenced by todays’ interconnected and interdependent multi-polar international and multiregional systems. This dynamism should encourage the Nile Basin countries to accelerate their efforts to form the Nile Basin Commission and move towards lifting the Nile Basin communities from poverty, conflicts, mistrust and political apathy. All the Nile Basin communities are in urgent need for sustainable development, peace, and appropriate governance, and when we investigate the developmental status of every and each single Nile Basin State digging in its reality of agriculture and rural development, urban development, economy and growth, education, energy and mining, environment, health, gender, infrastructure, science and technology, social development, trade, labour and employment, private sector, public sector, external debts, aid effectiveness and thus picturing the status of the primary sector (Agri-food), the secondary sector (Industry and manufacturing) and the third sector (Services) of the Nile Basin economies and industrialization, we can realize that these people deserve and merit to be assured to all the rights of development and the Right to benefit from the Nile.
The SDGs are composed of 17 goals (table 2)  and its related targets as reported in the Resolution A/RES/70/1 entitled Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015 . While the MDGs, which were unmet or partially achieved, were only 8 goals with similar specific and related targets. The time frame for MDGs was from 2000 to 2015, while the current SDGs time frame is from 2015 to 2030. While, the spatial scale is global and inclusive.
The SDGs considers our world, dignity and future as one and it is enshrined around five Ps: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. On the People it is focused on the inequality, gender and it inspires to leave no-one behind; On the Planet it deals with the climate change, the circular economy trying to sustain and promote sustainable consumption and production and pay particular attention to the water-energy-food nexus; On the Prosperity it considers inclusive sustainable and resilient cities, aims to promote science, technology and innovation (STI), and enhances trade, growth and related sustainable development; On the Peace front it tries to engage and work with fragile states, addresses issue and deals with migration and refugees and maintain and promote inclusive and peaceful societies; and lastly on the Partnership the SDGs operates and build on the means of implementation, engaging the private sector while ensuring appropriate accountability, follow-up and review.
The Nile Basin community has unique opportunities to celebrate and commemorate, mainstream the Declaration on the Right to Development, and its inclusion into human rights, in conjunction with the adoption of “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and human rights. Providing a unique opportunity to international community and Nile Basin member states to demonstrate and reiterate their political commitment and to promote and advance sustainable development and to achieve the remaining and unmet MDGs as well as the SDGs.
Coordination is needed when we see the striking example of duplication, fragmentation and overlapping can be felt from the regional environmental governance frameworks to tackle the climate change challenges. In this regard there are governance frameworks of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), East African Community (EAC), Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) .
Enabling Transformative Environment for Community Prosperity for the Nile Basin Community
As it is a primary responsibility of the Nile Basin states and community to promote and protect civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and all the human rights including the right to development and naturally the Right to the Nile is integrative part of all these rights.
Bearing a vision of putting in place an enabling transformative environment (Figure 1) in heart and mind, policy-and-decision makers can put on their tables of discussions and their venues of implementation on the practical grounds, effective and efficient policy options and scenarios for tackling the multiplicity and complexity of challenges, constraints and opportunities prevailing in the Nile Basin avoiding the contentious and historic problems hindering the growth and prosperity for the community of the Nile. Such visioning requires analytical and critical thinking and abstract orientation of policy-and-decision-makers in comprehensive patterns.
Figure 1. Enabling Transformative Environment for Community Prosperity.
To respond to the needs of the Nile Basin Communities, considering their priorities, providing them with options and spectrum of choices, innovative financing mechanism blended with responsible investment strategies should be adapted and adopted. Given and considering these noble objectives, an appropriate governance of the Nile Basin territories requires new and innovative legal frameworks, stemming from founded sound researches, evidences and scientific argumentations. A participated governance system built on consensus on shared visions, which should recognize the right to development for all without exclusions and undermining the basic rights for the indigenous people of the Nile Basin region. No single state from the Nile Basin can claim the inheritance of the Nile or a solo heaven blessing or gift. The Nile is a human heritage and that encompass all the humanity as inseparable part of the planet earth heritage. Consequently, no single Nile territory or neighbourhood territory can grab or takes the “lion’s share” of its tangible or intangible resources living deprived the other. The Nile is a common wealth for its people and could not be put into frame of opportunistic behaviour of predators and counter forces. Benefiting from the Nile and benefiting the Nile is a universal right and that thesis or affirmation could be called the “The Right to Nile” and could be acclaimed for consideration among the universally agreed upon human rights.
Some recommendations and possible actions for the Nile Basin States for creation of enabling transformative environment for prosperity
The Nile Basin states, could be recommended and advised to work and collectively act seriously on
The formation of the Nile Basin Commission with clear mandate to enhance and sustain the development and the full engagement in the (SDGs) 2030 Agenda, to implement this mandate a series of prioritized operational steps should be designed and well planned
• Genuine cooperation spirit
Coordination with inter-and-intra-agencies within the United Nations system in conjunction with the Nile Basin Institutions to enhance the realization of the right to development, providing analyses of SDGs implementation, taking into account the existing challenges, constraints and making recommendations on how to overcome them and capture the potential common opportunities endowed by the Nile Basin as territorial capital. Operationally and practically ad hoc commissions and working groups could be formed to follow up.
• Trust building and reconciliations through really genuine dialogue and mobilization, taking into consideration the fundamental differences on issues such as the role of the conventional developmental indicators, the content of the Right to Development, its implications as well as appropriate instruments to realize the inspired development in the framework of the SDGs. Harnessing more coordination, synergy, and collective harmony without dissipation of energies and resources and avoiding duplication of the already existing mechanisms
• Implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development, to take sufficient measures to ensure balanced and visible allocation of resources and due attention to ensure the visibility of the right to development, and acknowledge the need to strive for greater acceptance at the international level and urging all Nile Basin riparian States to undertake at the national level the necessary policy formulation and to institute the measures required for the implementation of the right to development and the attainment of the SDGs as an integral part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
• Set standards for the implementation of the right to development as useful basis for further deliberations on the implementation and realization of the right to development by advance considering criteria and operational sub-criteria which could take various forms, including finalizing guidelines on the implementation of the right to development, and evolve into a basis for consideration of an innovative international legal standard of a binding nature, through a collaborative process of engagement..
• Identifying and implementing tangible projects dedicated to the right to development, and provide regular updates to the concerned stakeholders and local communities in this regard.
• Recognize the need for renewed efforts towards intensifying deliberations in the inspired implementing commission, (eventually the Nile Basin Commission or Sub-basin Commissions), and working groups to fulfil, at the earliest, its developmental mandate as established.
• Facilitate active participation of experts from the Nile Basin community, provide advice with a view to contributing to discussions on the implementation and realization of the right to development, including the implications of the 2030 Agenda for SDGs, and looks forward to the possible engagement of the formed working groups with high-level socio-political forum.
• Integrate the implementation of the SDGs 2030 Agenda with other internationally agreed outcomes of 2015, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Nile Basin Shared Vision.
• Learn from the experiences of the shared resources communities such as the European Union (EU) and in harmonization with other national and regional and continental mechanisms and agenda, such as the 2063 African Union (AU) Agenda.
• Augment the ownership of the Nile Basin community by the developmental and prosperity paths and intensify efforts to recruit indigenous and external teams with adequate qualifications, relevant experience, expertise, independence, impartiality, personal integrity, objectivity, availability and motivation in compliance with relevant provisions of Human Rights mandatory institutions and have its tailored and innovative ones.
• Provide inputs for the preparations of thematic research/ studies/reports; assisting in policy dialogues and conduct e-consultations and field-research for data collection with a view to gather, request, receive and exchange information and communications from and with all relevant sources, including the Nile Basin States, their representative organizations and any other genuine parties from the International community.
Are there Nile Basin Development Days (NBDDs) as the good example of the European Development Days (EDDs)?
The Nile Day is celebrated by Nile Basin Institutions, like the due celebration of the Human Rights Day, but there are no days dedicated or celebrated as such focusing on the development in the Nile Basin. There is the recent and irregular Nile Basin Development Forum, which reached its 4th edition, which is excellent opportunity but limited to elites and highly specialized stakeholders. For instance, let us consider the European Development Days (EDDs), which is good practice activities dedicate days to debate the development issues and concerns, for this it gathers leaders from around the world and multiplicity of stakeholders. The author is privileged to attend it for different years. From this years session he has reported the following: On the 15th to the 16th of June 2016 in Brussels, the beating heart of the European international development cooperation concluded the 10th Edition of the European Development Days (EDD), a gathering of the International development community focusing on the European desire and motivations to be a leading player in the international development cooperation domain. The EDDs is a very interactive platform in which one can meet, talk, debate, challenge, solve, establish and share links with several key figures and personalities of pioneering roles in the international development and cooperation policies, head of states and assisting teams, executive directors of important global institutions, banks, foundations, academia, INGOs, CSOs, youth leaders, gender advocates, commissioners, artists, media outlets and the list is long to be mentioned all. The 2016 EDD focus was prioritized on the macro-theme of the Sustainable Development Goals in Action: Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future. i.e. The SDGs and its 5Ps (Peace, Prosperity, People, Planet and Partnership.). This annual gathering has mobilized almost 6.000 concerned persons to Brussels, ranging from the Secretary General of the United Nation Ban Ki-moon, the president of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim, invited Presidents of Kenya; Mauritius; Burkina Faso; Central African Republic; Prime Ministers of Ethiopia; Timor-Leste and Samoa; in addition to the European Parliament, Coalition of European NGOs led by CONCORD Europe, Action Aid International, Oxfam and the UNSG advisor on the 2030 Agenda, Voice of Libyan Women, the EU commissioners, the Queen of the Belgians, the Vice-President of European Commission, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy as well as the President of the European Commission and my self as humble academic. Key speakers and moderators articulated and guided the two days event in major sessions, project labs and multi-stakeholders presentations and debates. The EDDs was integrated and enriched by artistic laboratories, photo expo, exhibitions, cultural programs and performances, an EDD global village in addition to two important fora, which played a complementary and decorative part of this development summit. The global village was intended to be a crossroads for interaction, innovation and networking central space for showcasing successful projects and ground-breaking reports from around the globe rotating on the 5Ps. The Inclusive Exhibitions featured the Withered Flowers; Goals for Girls Post-2015; Culture Under Attack; 60 Solutions; Freddy Tsimba, and Congo Eza, while the Performances have featured the Dadili; Jumping Village; Shakespeare Hip Hop; François Bamba (Storyteller); Graffiti Art and The Nile Project, a wonderful initiative established by Mina Girgis in 2011 as cross-cultural collaboration between 35 individuals with a view to arousing cultural and environmental curiosity about them with the aim of bridging the cultural gap between river countries, using music as a medium. The EU resilience forum which is series of dialogues between donors, civil society organizations, think tanks, and partners countries aiming at the promotion of concerted practical actions on local risk management and vulnerability reduction to support the seventeen objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the World Humanitarian Summit 2016. The debate was ignited on the resilience on the ground especially where there are protracted displacement and chronic vulnerability in fragile settings. Another important forum was the EU-Africa Business forum as a follow-up workshop. This forum was a part of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) aiming at discussing the engagement of the private sector in development and mobilization of resources to stimulate growth and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in Africa and Europe. It was bi-session forum debated the impact of investing in Africa as well as the role of the public-Private-Partnerships in the Sustainable Energy. Vivid discussions were initiated by the Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) secretariat on the coming revival of EU-African partnership Agreements and its fairness and special debate on the Post-Cotonou Agreement. Strong rejection and concerns were raised over the intended collaboration of the EU with certain African Regimes and the interconnected potential and possible vulnerability to violate basic human rights, refoulment of refugees, and diversion of development resources and ODA to address the migration crises. The EDDs was live streamed on social media at the hash tag #EDD16, on twitter @EuropeAid and on the facebook page of Europe Aid as well as the singular media outlets of the diverse participating stakeholders such as the Euro News and AfricaNews and my personal invented and innovative social media connections.
The topics discussed, debated and tackled were inaugurated by high level introductory leadership panel on the major theme which is the sustainable development goals in action: our world, our dignity our future; followed by rich sessions on trade, growth and sustainable development; inclusive, sustainable and resilient cities; science, technology and innovation; water-energy-food nexus; circular economy / sustainable consumption and production; climate change; inequalities; gender; leave no-one behind; inclusive and peaceful societies; migration and refugees; working with fragile states; engaging the private sector, means of implementation; EU-Africa business forum follow-up workshop; post-Cotonou debate; ensuring accountability: a shared commitment; EU resilience forum and concluded with a closing high level panel entitled from commitment to action.
Doubtless, the EDD16 is an important milestone following the 8 MDGs era and sailing with the overarching framework flag of the 17 SDGs, this is a key event which has remarked the first global gathering of reflection on the implementation mechanism, follow-up and reporting process. Should our world affirm its noble will to turn the endorsed commitments and transform it into concrete actions and achieved developmental reality, such gatherings should be more frequent at local and global levels engaging everyone, it should engage and involve deep thinkers with critical and analytical capabilities. The SDGs came last year after long debate with tireless efforts and successive summits from Addis Ababa Agenda for Action, to post-MDGs summit at the UN HQ in New York, continuing to COP21 in Paris, these summits were not merely public relations events as some criticize, but were medium and long term planning for our coming 15 years to go. Furthermore, it is happening within the digital revolution and its yielding digital era, which is deepening and widening the understanding of the development dilemma, its linkage with the interconnected, interlinked and interdependent global security, humanitarian crises and planetarium prosperity and the future we want. The EDDs is integrated part of these global events such as the concluded World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul and the coming general assembly of the United Nation.
Basing on his post graduate studies, activism and working with esteemed European Universities and excellence research centres, active dual citizenship, political engagement and representation, the author is privileged to regularly attend the European Development Days since 2010, and gradually be involved and engaged in the successive editions. This allowed him to gain knowledge, share experiences, build enlarged networks, report to those who are left out or those who can’t afford to be in, and standing on that he is glad to disseminate for them what he has gained from my active and interactive participation. Personally, he considers the European Development Days as a fantastic, growing, innovative and vivid networking platform, which is keeping the spirit and desires for international inclusive development at the forefront of the international policy. Such wonderful event should be for everyone, everyday and everywhere, especially where development is imperatively and desperately needed. The transition from the smart millennium development goals to the transformative sustainable development goals is a humanity challenge to be addressed by the human collectivity to efficiently and effectively leave-no-one-behind.
Summary and Conclusive Remarks
The fundamental pillars of development, peace and human right are interdependent and collectively constitutes enabling environment for human prosperity as sketched in Figure 1.
The Nile Basin is endowed with immense resources, nature and People who can live collectively in common peace, security, stability and prosperity. Despite its natural and human capital, vast majority of its people miss the ought and merited prosperity, lack the enabling environment which must lead the Nile Basin Communities to the attainment of the sustainable development and compensate for the unmet millennium development goals in participatory and smart fashion, live in and with dilapidated governance systems, suffers from frequent violations and negation of the basic human rights and right to development aggravated by poor representative and deliberative democracies, and under serious vulnerability to preventable conflicts, and risk of missing the chances of development in adequate conservation and reconciliation of its nature and cultural heritage. Often and in many cases the people in Nile Basin communities lack sustainable peace, security and stability. Thus, the Nile basin Community to satisfy its basic needs and prioritize in its prosperity paths, increase the options and choices for its communities in terms of sustainable development, peace and respect of human rights and dignity, it needs to blend, amalgamate innovative tempo-spatial and financeable plans, programs, policy options and choices, building upon beneficial partnerships and share the available and potential endowments and its umbilical cord and backbone Nile River and source for development. It needs to encourage responsible investments and sustainable allocation and exploitations of its resources. In the Nile Basin Countries, the right to the development cannot be attained without the assuring equitable right to the Nile. Neither peace, security, stability, nor sustainable development and governance can stand without respect of human rights and democracy, all necessary and essential enabling and above all non conflictive environments for the prosperity of the Nile Basin community.
References and Websites
1.  State of the River Nile 2012, Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), ISBN: 978-997-444-00-7, 2012, p. 12
2.  Bowden Rob, A River Journey: The Nile (River Journeys), Wayland, 2006, p. 7.
3.  Bowden Rob, Settlements of the River Nile, Rivers through time, Heinemann Library, p. 4.
4.  United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2012). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision, CD-ROM Edition.
5.  https://www.opride.com/2013/06/14/reflections-on-the-grand-ethiopian-renaissance-dam/
6.  http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD Accessed 29.10.2016
and http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators Accessed 29.10.2016
7.  de Mabior, John Garang, “Identifying, selecting, and implementing rural development strategies for socio-economic development in the Jonglei Projects Area, Southern Region, Sudan ” (1981). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. Paper 7413.
8.  Yassin, Chang, Iseppi, Resources Grabbing in the Nile Basin: Misuse, Mismanagement and Misinvestments.” proceedings of the IPSAPA International Conference 2013. ISSN 1691-5887
9.  http://www.nilebasin.org/ Accessed 31.10.2016
10.  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/UDHRIndex.aspx Accessed 31.10.2016
11.  http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ Accessed 29.10.2016
12.  State of the River Nile 2012, Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), ISBN: 978-997-444-00-7, 2012, p. 90-91
The author would love to acknowledge the helpful support provided by the University of Udine, IPSAPA-ISPALEM, the University of Manchester and Bury Council Libraries for the kind hospitality, the East and Horn of Africa defend defenders of Human rights, the Democracy First Group and Geneva Call for rendering enabling conditions to my team leadership to the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Council 2016 where I gathered, maturated and amalgamated the ideas of this working and discussion paper, and sincere appreciation to my leadership and colleagues in the Committee for Religion Freedom and Citizenship Right of the SPLM-N for nominating and electing me as secretary general of its executive respectively, something made it imperative to dig in the Human Rights huge literature, charter and resolutions. I should also express my gratitude to the anonymous referees for their readiness to provide invaluable comments and advice. Gratitude is extended to Dr. A. Babiker for the read-prove, and to the professors and executives for the constructive, critical comments and advice. Finally, I would like to heartily thank and acknowledge the contributions of the prestigious Sudan Tribune, Sudaneseonline in providing disseminative outlet to my contributions.
I dedicate this article to a great maestro, the late Yousif Kowa, who guided us in the Educational track providing visionary readings to complex realities, and to his companion our leader the late Dr. John Garang De Mabior, who wrote his PhD thesis on the Socio-economic Development of Jongeli in the Nile Basin and who guided the addition of the New State to the Nile Basin.
This article is a humble part of the concluding PhD thesis on the Nile Basin in transformation and the interdependent and interconnected challenges, constraints and opportunities. It is part of the multidisciplinary research program in Economics, Ecology, Landscape and Territory under the coordination of Professor Chang, Supervision of Professor Iseppi and friendly advise of Professor Piccinini. All the views and comments are the sole responsibility of the author.
For correspondence with the Author:
Mohamed S. M. Yassin: Doctorate Research Program in Economics, Ecology, Landscape and Territory at the former Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture, currently Department of Agro-food, Environmental and Animal Sciences, University of Udine, Italy, Institutional E-mails: Mohamed.firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com Twitter: @MohamedSMYassin
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