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The latest steps towards the spread of the abortion and LGBTIQ agenda in more than half of the UN member states: The European Union's attempt to use the post-Cotonou Agreement to interfere in the policies of Southern countries

Published: 01.08.2022

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· The Post-Cotonou Agreement between the European Union and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) has been negotiated with the aim of replacing the previous 20-year economic accord among the two blocs of countries.


· One of the priority of the new binding treaty is that of reinforcing ‘human rights’ obligations, ‘comprehensive sexual education’ and ‘reproductive rights’ by the means of a global alliance.


·The partnership envisages the creation of a joint political coalition between EU Member States and ACP States leading to the formation of a voting majority in UN international bodies under the leadership of the EU.


· The European Union has negotiated the treaty on behalf of the 27 Member States in areas, such as health policy and ‘reproductive rights’, where it has no competence.


· The agreement, if ratified by ACP States, will lead to an unprecedented large-scale promotion of abortion and gender ideology in the South World as well as to a geopolitical power grab of the EU over half of the seats at the United Nations, silencing the sovereignty of 78 States.


· The Ordo Iuris Institute asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its position on the matter. In response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that it considered the conclusion of the agreement to be beneficial and desirable.


The initialling of the Post-Cotonou Agreement on 15thApril 2021 has marked the end of the negotiations began in September 2018 to draft a new 20-year partnership agreement with the ACP States based on trade, development and ‘respect for human rights’. The core of the Post-Cotonou Agreement, however, is not primarily focused on trade cooperation – covered separately by the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) – but rather on defining the social and political framework of the future long-term partnership, whose terms have been strongly affected by the influence (or ‘supremacy’) of the European Union. The failure to comply with the human rights principles and obligations outlined in the treaty, including free access to abortion, can expose the parties to the suspension of the agreement in whole or in part (Art. 101 §§ 6-8) since the provisions on human rights are ‘essential element’ of the agreement (Art. 9 § 7). For that reason, the accord presents a very alarming and dangerous scenario when dealing with human rights clauses mandatory over 1.5 billion of people.


With regard to the content of the treaty and the specific priorities followed in the field of human rights, the European Parliament, before the start of the bargaining in 2018, adopted a resolution calling on the Commission and the Council to explicitly include in the human rights part of the mandate freedom from discrimination based on "sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights, as set out in the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action and the outcomes of the review conferences".


Following the indication of the EP, the Post-Cotonou accord states that “The Parties commit to the full and effective implementation of [Beijing and ICPD] and the outcomes of their review conferences and commit to sexual and reproductive health and rights, in this context” (Art. 30). Furthermore, under Art. 2 § 5, “The Parties shall systematically promote a gender perspective and ensure that gender equality is mainstreamed across all policies”. In the African Regional Protocol included in the agreement, then, African governments are committed to implement “sexual and reproductive health and rights” (Art. 36 § 2) – a term always rejected by the African Group in UN negotiated documents and obligates African governments – and to provide  “universal access to sexual and reproductive health commodities” and “health-care services” (Art. 29 § 5) which in the language used by the European Commission explicitly means free access to abortion. Furthermore, Art. 49 § 6 mandates African countries to ensure access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education, taking into account the UNESCO International Technical Guide on Sexuality Education, which, among other things, argues that children have a right to sex and should be educated about sexual pleasure, homophobia and transphobia. The Caribbean Regional Protocol, on the other hand, requires the second group of countries to implement the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development, which emphasises the promotion of free access to abortion and policies that enable people to exercise their sexual rights, including early childhood sex education. For the implementation of the provisions of the agreement, the EU affirmed its commitment to contribute to the costs.


From a political and geopolitical point of view, the controversies surrounding the post-Cotonou Agreement concern both international and domestic aspects. On the international level, the main implications regard the provision whereby the parties undertake to coordinate their positions and votes in international organisations (Art. 79 § 1), thus creating a majority consensus in bodies such as the United Nations. This obligation will enable the EU to exert direct influence on the ACP States in a large number of international organisations. Furthermore, the agreement elevates the outcomes of the Beijing Conference and the International Conference on Population and Development – along with other controversial documents – to the status of treaty obligations, making the ACP countries responsible for their implementation. Domestically, on the other hand, the EU has committed itself on behalf of the 27 Member States to areas, such as 'reproductive rights', where it has no competence. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that while the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000 was a mixed agreement between the EU and its Member States that as such required ratification by the latter, the post-Cotonou agreement will enter into force without any further ratification.


According to the next steps for adoption and entry into force, the new agreement will only become binding under international law after the completion of each party's internal legal procedures and final signatures. As far as the EU is concerned, the Council of the European Union will have to approve the signature, provisional application and conclusion of the agreement after the consent of the European Parliament, while on the side of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) the treaty will be subject to approval and ratification by each State according to its internal procedures. Currently, the European Council recently approved, on 22 June 2022, the extension of the application of the expired agreement between the EU and the ACP States until 30 June 2023, or until the entry into force of the new agreement, given the delay in its signature.


In conclusion, in light of the above, the post-Cotonou agreement seems to present itself as a way to push ACP states' policies under the EU's sphere of influence rather than a means to cooperate for the common good of the ACP peoples. Despite the fact that the agreement was endorsed by both ACP and EU states, it cannot be indifferent that in exchange for trade agreements aimed at facilitating the economies of the global South, the most fragile part of the bargaining unit is led to accept social policy clauses that do not belong to its cultural tradition. As stated in the open letter written by African women leaders to African heads of state on the misleading treaty in question, therefore, the implementation of the agreement should take place with full respect for the material sovereignty, laws, and religious and cultural values of the ACP countries, without elevating 'reproductive rights', 'comprehensive sex education' or 'gender equity' to the status of human rights erroneously recognised as such by the international community.  Otherwise, the principle of respect for human rights only takes the form of a cultural imperialism centred on the export of a concept of self-determination, family, education and sexuality that finds no consensus even among the citizens of the EU Member States themselves.

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