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African NGOs Oppose Human Rights Clause in EPAs

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Thursday, 31 March 2011

African NGOs Oppose Human Rights Clause in EPAs

Part of the delay in the finalisation of the economic partnership agreements (EPAs) is due to the so-called non-execution clause that gives the EU the power to take steps against its African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) trading partners if they violate human rights, democracy and good governance principles. "African governments and civil society resist this clause because EPAs are commercial agreements where the two parties give and take," explains Cheikh Tidiane Dieye, the civil society representative of the West African EPA negotiating team. "Furthermore, the clause is not reciprocal since West Africa would not be able to take steps against the EU if Senegalese immigrants in France are put in jail in violation of basic human rights principles, for example," he adds. The EPAs are the implementation of the trade chapter of the Cotonou agreement between the EU and the ACP, which already contains a strong non- execution clause that has been used several times. The Caribbean EPA – the only complete one to date – does contain a non-execution clause. "Negotiations need a clear strategy," adds Jacob Kotchao, the civil society representative of the Central African EPA negotiating team. "Our countries have a long way to go with respect to human rights but we don’t want these values to be used to the detriment of our development.