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Some countries of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States have refused to sign the Partnership Agreement with the European Union

Published: 21.11.2023

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· At a formal ceremony held in Samoa, as many as 35 countries of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) refused to sign the agreement with the European Union.

· The agreement pushes the concept of so-called reproductive and sexual rights and gender theory.

· Earlier this month, Namibia opposed the signing of the agreement on the grounds that its provisions undermine state sovereignty - an example followed by other OACPS countries.

The new partnership agreement covers 47 African countries, 16 Caribbean and 15 Pacific countries and the Republic of the Maldives. It sets out the EU's common principles and legal framework with these countries. The agreement indicates that the following areas are targeted: peace and security, democracy and human rights, sustainable economic growth and development, human and social development, climate change, migration and mobility. The agreement replaces the Cotonou Agreement, adopted in 2000, governing relations between the EU and 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, which had a 20-year duration.

Opposition from countries of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States

The Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Family Values and Sovereignty, organised by the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on the Family, in collaboration with the African Bar Association and the African Heritage Foundation, called on the leaders of all African OACPS countries to refrain from signing the agreement. This is because it will legally bind these countries for 20 years - except for explicit caveats to protect the sovereignty of African countries and their family values. The Namibian government has already raised concerns about the agreement's provisions on the ideology of the LGBT movement in 2021, and because these regulations conflict with the provisions of the constitution, its legal framework and its international relations and cooperation policy. It was noted that each country must have the right to amend the treaty if it conflicts with their laws, religious and cultural values. Furthermore, it was pointed out that a clause must be included to prohibit the promotion and encouragement of abortion, sex education, gender identity, other autonomous 'sexual rights' or the sexual services of minors. This is required in order to respect the religious, cultural freedoms and rights of a country.

During the formal signing ceremony held in Samoa, as many as 35 OACPS countries refused to sign the agreement, which will provisionally enter into force from 1 January 2024. Among them were 20 African countries, nine Caribbean countries and six Pacific countries. Some of the African countries argued their opposition to the treaty's provisions by raising the issue of non-discrimination, a provision they believe promotes the demands of the LGBT movement. These countries also point out that the treaty is underdeveloped.

The agreement contains common provisions applicable to all parties and three regional protocols on Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The agreement creates three new parliamentary assemblies for the three regional blocs, keeps trade relations unchanged and will no longer be linked to the aid programme. The agreement does, however, introduce 'common principles' in key areas - human rights, democracy, peace and security, social development, economic growth, climate change and migration.  

The member states of the European Union have agreed to sign the agreement. The treaty will enter into force once the European Parliament gives its consent and there is ratification by the parties, i.e. all member states and at least two-thirds of the OACPS members.

The European Union is concerned about the refusal of all countries to sign the agreement

The European Union is increasingly concerned about the prolongation of the final signing of the agreement, which in turn is perceived as acting in bad faith. According to the chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Development, Tomas Tobé, it is imperative that the new treaty is implemented swiftly because of the urgent need to strengthen multilateral cooperation in the face of increasing geopolitical instability and global challenges. For her part, the director of the Brussels office of the Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung, Lisa Goerlitz, expressed the hope that the other countries that have so far refused to sign the document will do so by the end of this year.

Poland defends the values guaranteed by the Polish Constitution

Representatives of Poland have prepared a declaration according to which, where the agreement provides for 'gender equality', the Republic of Poland will interpret this in accordance with European Union law, i.e. as the principle of equality between women and men. Moreover, the phrase 'gender', contained in the agreement and absent from the Treaties, is to be interpreted by Poland as 'sex', in accordance with Articles 10, 19(1) and 157(2) and (4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Furthermore, 'reproductive rights' and other derived rights, whether identical or similar, are understood by Poland only as activities which may have the direct purpose of promoting and saving human health and life, and it therefore opposes the derivation from these rights of the so-called right to abortion and the use of contraception as a form of promoting health, family planning or guaranteeing human rights. Abortion - as the Polish government rightly points out - is not a human right, but on the contrary a form of deprivation of the right to life. With regard to so-called sexual education, the Republic of Poland understands it as age-appropriate and content-appropriate education, in accordance with the relevant Polish laws and curricula based on them. At present, Poland has refrained from signing the agreement as a protest against the treaty's promotion of so-called rights that are fought for by LGBT+ activists (reproductive and sexual health, 'gender' ideology).

The Ordo Iuris Institute already reported on the agreement in 2021, pointing out the dangerous provisions and drew attention to the need for objections if it was signed, including preparing a petition and forming an international coalition of opposition. The Institute's experts also prepared a memorandum addressed to the foreign ministries of the signatory countries, in which they showed the risks of signing the document.

- The new partnership agreement is an important part of the international legal order. The conclusion of the agreement results in the introduction of liberal thought aimed at destroying the fundamental values valid in a given society and community, including the cultures of the OACPS states,' emphasises Dr Przemysław Kulawiński of the Ordo Iuris Centre for International Law.

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