UNEA and FAO: Day 4, passes joint resolution, through blood and oil

The FAO and UNEA met for an emergency joint session today following this week’s oil spill incident downstream in the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam.

The incident was made interesting by the offer of American owned companies DuPont and Bechtel to clean up the mess in a fifth of the time it would take the Ethiopian and Sudanese governments, but under contracts which would allow those companies to claim a lease on all land they cleaned up.

The issue has been of serious concern for the FAO which has been debating similarly “exploitative” practices by multinational firms involved in food production, while the environmental impact is of immediate concern to the FAO.

On UNEA, Egypt, Russia and the UAE have taken positions against the dam; Ecuador, Israel and Malaysia have been among those strongly in its favour. Germany and Ireland have been more cautious about environmental impact but have not withdrawn their support for the dam in principle.

The FAO has come late to the debate as the offer of multinational corporations was a late dimension added to an ongoing crisis, but the issues discussed by the UNEA so far have only concerned environmental issues, leaving the issues of equitability and food security more generally to the FAO.

The two committees have come together in the hope that a sharing of ideas among the two committees will allow the two countries to better co-ordinate their humanitarian relief and development responses to the crisis.

Israel (UNEA) and Angola (FAO) were the main drafters of the first working paper to come out from the joint session, but was delayed by the computer freezing. With technical difficulties resolved, the working paper called for the immediate suspension of the building of the dam, funnelling emergency funds to tackle the oil spill, and establishing a commission of experts from the AU and UN to assess the situation.

The working paper went forward to become a draft resolution, with amendments added to diminish the right of first refusal on leasing land cleaned up by the companies, and passed the committee by 41 votes with 4 against.

The paper is the latest in a series of documents prepared in the international community concerning different aspects of the ongoing situation in the Nile Basin, with the Security Council and CEU having debated the sharing of water in the region, and UNCITRAL debating effects on the distribution of food goods in the region.


Final remarks were given on behalf of UNEA by Ireland, “the greenest country in the world”, expressing just how tired the committee was, but equally how proud they were to see the resolution passed. After a shout-out to the FAO, the final remarks were given by Angola, commending the remarks of Ireland and the contribution of the absent delegate of Ethiopia.

The definitive last word however is that given by the Republic of Angola during a speech earlier during the debate. “As for the genetically modified organisms… Fuck.”

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