Reading about the ownership of the dam, found that the control and final say on any projects on the dam belongs to Egypt.

Does this give Egypt the right to attack the Ethiopian dam?


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    What dam? Can you give a bit more context and maybe a citation for your claims of Egyptian control? – divibisan Jul 15 '20 at 20:43
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    I'm sorry, but we can not mediate questions of international law with little to no precedent on this website. This is a completely opinon-based question. – Philipp Jul 15 '20 at 21:24
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    "... final say on any projects on the dam belongs to Egypt." What is that based on? Ethiopia was not a party to either the 1929 agreement between Egypt and Great Britain-controlled African colonies in the Nile basin nor the 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan. – Just Me Jul 15 '20 at 21:29
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    @Philipp Maybe this question is on-topic. There is an applicable set of international rules, so answers might not have to be entirely opinion-based: Berlin Rules on Water Resources And there are documented cases throughout history where control of water flow was literally used as acts of war. – Just Me Jul 15 '20 at 21:31
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    Voted to re-open because we've got a good answer below that deals with the generalities of international rights and consequences. – Jontia Jul 16 '20 at 9:53

When you're talking about countries, "rights" means something very different. A country's "rights" are defined by what other countries let them do. Sometimes this is by treaty, sometimes by threat of war or economic restrictions, sometimes it's simply by generally accepted convention, and sometimes it's simply because there would be no effective action to counter it. There's no higher power to enforce anything - even the UN and its constituent bodies only works (as much as they do) because the countries involved agreed to go along with it.

Given that, the real question is whether other countries would accept the dam as a casus belli for attacking another country. If they do, then Egypt has the "right" to make that attack. If they don't, then Egypt doesn't have that "right", but can still do so anyway, if they're willing to suffer the international consequences. Either way, Ethiopia has the "right" to defend itself and its infrastructure, because territorial self-defense is a internationally recognized right of a country.

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