Civil Society Forum

We are presently in the period of the 3rd ACP Civil Society Forum, which assembled in December 2009. This period will last for two years or until the next Forum is assembled.

Lawman Lynch

Can Trade Policy Improve Human Rights?

Joyce van Generen-Naar

On 13 October 2010 the Conference 'Can Trade Policy Improve Human Rights' was organized by the Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Presentations were made by representatives from the WTO, ILO, George Washington University, Avocats sans Frontiéres France.

EU Commissioner De Gucht also adressed the audience, explaining his pro free trade policy.

In his conclusions the President of the S&G Group, Mr. Martin Schultz, said that he is not supporting the opinion of Members in the European Parliament who say 'First Trade and than Human Rights'. He also does not support views that say 'no human rights no trade'. There has to be a good balance.

Another concern is that the European Parliament does not have the tools (capacity) yet for its new co-decision competency and responsability with regard to the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) Negotiations, provided for in the Lisbon Treaty. That is why they are organizing these conferences and hearings, to listen to the opinions of the experts and to learn.

So it is a kind of capacity building of the European Parliament and its members. But will it be efficient to deal with these complex global trade issues?

Now the focus is on human rights and social and environmental rights and standards of the FTAs, but there are other trade policy issues to address.

Recommendations were made to establish a binding complaint management system for human rights violations in FTAs.

Dispute settlement should be applied to all chapters, also to the sustainable chapter, which is not the case in the FTA Korea (and in the CF-EC-EPA and probably other FTAs).

The conclusion is that Trade Policy can improve the economic development of a country, but economic growth does not mean that human rights, labour rights and social and environmental rights are improved. In some countries they are (for example Mauritius), but in many countries in the South social-, environmental and labour conditions are worsened because of FTAs (longer working hours, no job security, no healthy circumstances, no more access to cheap medicines etc.).

That has also been said by Asian and European representatives during the 8th ASIA-Europe's People's Forum, organised from 2 - 5 October 2010 in Brussels, parallel to the 8th Asia-Europe ASEM Summit in Brussels, and in the Recommendations on

Joyce van Genderen-NAAR, Lawyer
Advisor ACP Civil Society Forum:

The Kelsey Report: Services and Investment in the CARIFORUM-EC EPA

By Norman Girvan

Dr Jane Kelsey, Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and a leading international authority on trade in services agreements, has conducted an exhaustive study of Legal Provisions on Services and Investment in the CARIFORUM-EC EPA. The eleven-chapter, 111-page study, now published by the South Centre, indentifies five principal categories of legal risk in the EPA: (i) asymmetry in favour of the EU; (ii) the unpredictable and unlimited multiplier effect of most-favoured nation and 'regional preference' obligations; (iii) an externally imposed regional integration model; (iv) closure of policy space; (v) complexity, uncertainty and a heightened risk of errors with no structured opportunity to correct them.

The main recommendation for Cariforum States is to utilise the Joint Declaration of the Parties on the Signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement, to be conducted pursuant to Article 5 of the EPA, which the author states is 'the only formal opportunity to address the concerns raised in the report'. For Non-Cariforum States, especially in the ACP grouping, the main recommendation is they 'should assert their right not to negotiate an agreement with the EU on services and investment'.

The publication of the Kelsey Report provides an opportunity to broaden current exchanges over the EPA in the Caribbean beyond the issue of implementation of the agreement. Given the scope and extent of the legal risks identified, it would be appropriate for the legal and other academic community, trade officials, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders to examine the EPA text critically with a view to assessing the implications and detemining the modifications necessary to make the Agreement more in line with Cariforum/Caricom circumstances and interests. This is all the more important, in that services and investment form part of the CARICOM/Canada FTA and negotiations on these subjects are due to commence soon. Further, we are nearly two years into the period allowed for the mandatory review, and adequate preparation in support of the Caricom/Cariforum case needs to be made.

Read the Kelsey/South Centre Report

ACP Press Statement: Ouagadougou 22 June 2010

The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group with its principal development partner, the European Union, today signed the second five-yearly review of the Cotonou Agreement in a historic event in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

After more than a year of negotiations with the EU, both parties signed the revised agreement in a colourful event - witnessed by ministers, ambassadors and officials from the ACP and the EU countries at the close of the 35th Session of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers.

At the 91st Session of the ACP Council of Ministers that took place a few days earlier in Ouagadougou, ACP ministers gave their approval on the revised agreement and commended the ACP Committee of Ambassadors for successfully negotiating with the Europeans.

The President of the ACP Council of Ministers, His Excellency Mr. Paul Bunduku-Latha, the Gabonese Deputy Minister to the Ministry of Economic Planning, Trade, Industry and Tourism said the signing of the Second Revised Cotonou Agreement in Ouagadougou signified a rewarding relationship that has grown from strength to strength and spans over 30 years.

Mr Bunduku-Latha and H.E Ms. Soraya Rodriguez, Secretary of State for International Cooperation of Spain (EU Presidency), presided over the signing ceremony. Ministers and government representatives from the ACP and the European Community signed the revised agreement.

Mr Bunduku-Latha said that for the past year - both sides had looked and scrutinized in fine detail, the Cotonou Agreement in the revision process to meet the difficult challenges and cope with shifting trends in a fast challenging world.

The revised Agreement, amongst other things, addressed a number of important issues between the two parties. One of them is the need to expedite progress towards the attainment of MDGs as well as aid effectiveness and global challenges such financial market shocks. It also emphasizes the link between peace and security and poverty reduction and peace and security. The provisions on humanitarian assistance have been improved to emphasis not only responses to emergency situations, but also support for ACP States' efforts in disaster risk reduction and post conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation.

"Our believe is that the revised agreement will help to fight against poverty and assist in our efforts to achieve sustainable development and help to mobilize the international community to attain the MDGs," the ACP President, Mr. Bunduku-Latha said.

The Secretary-General of the ACP Group, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, said that the signing marked an important development of the ACP-EU relationship - reiterating that the revision was not simply about changing words in a document. Rather, it was about improving an agreement whose implementation would grant better opportunities and positive outcomes in the lives of the ACP people.

The Cotonou Agreement is a treaty between the European Union and the ACP states. It was signed in June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin, by 79 ACP countries and the then fifteen Member States of the European Union. It entered into force in 2003 and is the most recent agreement in the history of ACP-EU Development Cooperation. It is reviewed every five years.

Meanwhile, the birth of the ACP Group was signified by the signature of the Georgetown Agreement on the 6th of June 1975 in Georgetown, Guyana. The ACP cooperation with the EU has been anchored around the First Lomé Convention in 1975 - and was followed by Lomé II, III and then Lomé IV which was signed in 1990. It was succeeded by the Cotonou Agreement in 2000, and was revised in 2005 and earlier this year for the second time, which has just been signed in Ouagadougou.

Also present at the Ouagadougou signing were representatives from the African Union (AU), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC).

Note: The Cotonou Agreement provides for a review every five years as stipulated under Article 95 (3). The ACP States on the one hand, and the European Community and its Member States on the other, shall notify the other Party not later than 12 months before the expiry of each five year period of any review of the provisions they desire to make with a view to possible amendments.

Regarding the current revision process, notification to the EU took place before 28 February 2009. After notification, the Parties had a period of two months up to 30 April 2009 in which to request the extension of the review to other provisions related to those which were the subject of the initial request. On the 1 May 2009, ten months before the expiry of the current five year period, the ACP + EU entered into negotiations and was concluded and initialed on the 19 March 2010.

La deuxieme Revision de l'accord de Cotonou: [View]  [Download]

2nd Revision of the Cotonou Agreement:  [Download]


19th Session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly
Tenerife, Spain

29 March - 1 April 2010

Presentation on "How the Social Economy Can Contribute to Africa's Development - The Consumer Perspective" By Mr. Kimera Henry Richard, Chief Executive, Consumer Education Trust (CONSENT) and Consumers International (CI) Africa Representative on the ACP-EU Follow-up Committee of the European Economic and Social Committee.
31 March 2010


Your Excellencies, Co-presidents and Members of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is with great honor that I join Mr. Luca JAHIER the President of ACP-EU Follow-up Committee of the European Economic and Social Committee to compliment his speech on a topic "How the Social Economy Can Contribute to Africa's Development - The Consumer Perspective".

The social economy and its numerous institutions like formal and informal cooperatives, social community group arrangements among others exist in Africa and contribute to the welfare of the citizens and development on a big scale irrespective of not being formally documented.

Social economy is understood and appreciated in Africa and other regions in many forms and delivers goods and services irrespective of societal and national challenges. Majority of us are beneficiaries of respective social economy arrangements directly and/or indirectly as we consume a number of its products.

Social economy has been around and will be around long enough to contribute to human, societal and national development globally. Examples are seen in challenging times within society. It played a role in absorbing effects of food and financial crisis where beneficiaries of the social economy were not greatly impacted due to collective social inclusiveness actions and solutions in society that enabled consumers sharing the limited resources available and accommodating those in need... read more

Call For
Proposals & Procurement



The ACP FISH II Programme is a 4.5-year programme financed by the European Development Fund on behalf of ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of states) countries. The aim of the programme is to improve fisheries management in ACP countries so as to ensure that fisheries resources under the jurisdiction of these countries are exploited in a sustainable manner.

ECDPM seeks your thoughts on the future of ACP-EU relations post-2020 (Version française ci-dessous)

ACP Journalists in Brussels to cover ACP Council of Ministers Meeting

ACP Press Release - Monday 6 June 2011: In celebrating the 36th Anniversary of the ACP Day, Secretary-General Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas has challenged the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group to re-assess its place in the world as its key partner, the European Union, also undergoes changes.

The European Investment Bank, the EU’s house bank, has been an active development partner of the ACP countries and OCTs since 1963 and 1968 respectively.

Load More


There are no events in this calendar yet.


Use the Compact Layout for single column (left|right) display.

There is no recent activity.

Viewed 134,347 times