ACP says no to sanctions.

Author:Misser, Francois
Position:1997 African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States-European Union Joint Assembly

The recent ACP-EU Joint-Assembly held in Lome was a fractious affair. The ACP states set their faces firmly against aid conditionalities demanded by Europe while South Africa was furious that it cannot yet count itself a full member of the body. FRANCOIS MISSER attended the meeting.

Calls from European MPs to impose further sanctions on several African states failed at the last EU-ACP Joint Assembly held in Lome at the end of October. Simultaneously, the European Commission stated clearly that the crucial instruments of cooperation will be preserved in the future ACP-EU cooperation agreement.

In November 1991, the EU decided to make its aid to the ACP countries conditional on certain criteria being met, such as respect for human rights, the progress of democratisation, and good governance. As a result, six years later, EU support for some of the largest countries such as Nigeria, Sudan and Congo-Kinshasa has been discontinued.

However, it now seems that political support for the sanctions policy is diminishing. In the past, the Europeans found it relatively easy to get ACP endorsement for their sanctions policies, but it was quite a different story during the last ACP-EU Joint Assembly session which took place from 27 to 30 October, in Lome.

The ACP co-president of the Assembly, Sir John Kaputin from Papua New Guinea, who had just made a private visit to Nigeria, warned of the consequences of strengthening sanctions against that country. The economic crisis which would result could provoke a massive exodus of economic refugees which would destabilise neighbouring countries, he said.

A majority of ACP MPs opposed a resolution tabled by the Labour Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Glenys Kinnock who called on the EU to impose an oil embargo against Nigeria, and on the ACP to implement the measures approved by the Commonwealth a few days earlier in Edinburgh. Eventually, the pro-sanctions lobby was defeated much to the delight of Nigerian President Sani Abacha, who welcomed this decision a few hours later.

But Nigeria wasn't the only case. Despite the support of a majority of his European colleagues, the French MEP Bernard Stasi also found himself facing an unbending ACP when he put forward a resolution,demanding respect for human rights, democratic institutions and international law as prerequisites before cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo can be resumed. Delegates from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the...

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