Cotonou Agreement Article 96
The Cotonou Agreement has governed cooperation between the European Union and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) since 2000. Given the start of negotiations on the successor, the results so far appear to be mixed. EURACTIV France. In drafting the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, EU and ACP negotiators took the trouble to clarify that the application of Article 96 should be preceded by a dialogue phase and should therefore only be used if any attempt to resolve disputes fails. Indeed, the main content of Article 96 relates to other discussions or “consultations,” as they are called. The emphasis is therefore widely placed on dialogue and the attempt to reach an agreement. The achievements of the Cotonou agreement are to be discussed from 1 September. But the problem is that nothing is provided if this deadline is not met. They also establish a procedure that can be applied in cases where one of the parties does not respect the above basic principles. To this end, the EU is seen as a party and each ACP country in particular as another party. The rules governing this procedure are set out in Article 96 of the agreement.
The length of the consultation period depends on the nature and severity of the breach and the evolution of the discussions. It is established by mutual agreement between the parties and may not exceed one hundred and twenty days. “The achievements of the Cotonou agreement are numerous. Everything is present in this agreement, even if not all have been applied with the same success,” said a French diplomatic source. “In fact, the balance sheet of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is quite modest,” admits a French diplomatic source. These agreements, signed between the EU and the regional blocs of ACP countries, are widely criticised by African countries and accuse it of hindering the continent`s integration by fragmenting regional markets. Article 96 and its rarely used sister Section 97 are easily the most controversial articles of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. They form the legal basis for the suspension of the Cotonou agreement in cases where one of the parties believes that the essential and fundamental elements of the agreement are not being respected.
The articles are therefore inevitably linked to some form of disagreement or a breakdown in relations between the signatory parties. The inclusion of these articles in the Cotonou agreement, however, is not surprising: the troubleshooting clauses that describe what should be done when the parties no longer agree on the way forward are the single currency in treaties and agreements. So why the controversy? This article has been applied 15 times since 2000, following the violent fall of the government, the escalation of violence or human rights violations. Among the cases that have occurred to date are: in practice, the political dialogue planned by Cotonou has been used several times since the agreement came into force. This article is part of our special EU-ACP report under the Cotonou agreement: reintegrate, revitalize or withdraw?. Finally, when it comes to respect for sexual and reproductive rights, the issue of LGBT rights is a real weakness of the partnership agreement. In recent years, laws that discriminate against LGBT people have multiplied, particularly in Africa. One of the pillars of political cooperation between the two blocs is human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, which both sides have committed to uphold.