ACP-EU MPs back ongoing democratic power-shifts in Africa and the Middle East
19 May 2011
Brussels: MEPs and their counterparts from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific called for impartial justice to underpin reconciliation in the Côte d'Ivoire, and backed the right of citizens to demand political change wherever power is withheld from the people, at the 21st ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, in Budapest on 16-18 May. They also debated democracy-building, human rights, including homosexuals' rights, and how best to ensure the accountability of political leaders.
"Especially in times of economic crisis, many donors roll back on their aid commitments for the countries of the South", underlined JPA Co-President Louis Michel. At the same time, he advocated delivering development aid in the form of budgetary support to developing countries, be it general or sector-specific, as "the most suitable instrument if we want to achieve the objective of aid effectiveness and support state-building".
"We will not accept that governments or politicians use the "cultural" argument to justify the hunting down and demonizing of homosexuality", he declared during the opening speech, sparking mixed reactions by the plenary Assembly.
Urgent resolutions: Côte d'Ivoire and the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East
The outgoing President's refusal to transfer power after the elections held in November 2010 has taken Côte d'Ivoire to the brink of a civil war, with thousands of people killed and more than one million refugees. While welcoming the reconciliation process launched by President Ouattara, parliamentarians called for a thorough investigation of the atrocities committed against civilians.
Delegates voted another urgent resolution on the consequences of the Arab spring. The democratic aspirations of people in the Middle East and North Africa could inspire democratic changes in Africa, the Caribbean, Pacific and Europe, stress MPs of the ACP-EU JPA MPs, drawing attention to the political, economic and social roots and repercussions of the "Arab Spring" unrest.
To support the transition to democracy in these countries and help them cope with the enormous economic challenges they are facing - high unemployment, falling revenues from tourism - the ACP-EU Assembly recommends considering "a temporary suspension of debt".
Budget support, challenges to democracy and water pollution
The Assembly also adopted three reports submitted by its committees.
Budgetary support as a means of delivering Official Development Assistance (ODA) in ACP countries, by Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D, Spain) and Mohamed Abdallahi Ould Guelaye (Mauritania), warns that aid in this form should not be overburdened by political conditionality provided that the ACP countries meet Cotonou Agreement criteria such as transparent public financing and well-defined policies to eradicate poverty. Neither should budgetary assistance be linked to fulfilling economic conditions that can hamper ACP countries' development, it adds.
Challenges for the future of democracy and respecting constitutional order in ACP and EU countries by Olle Schmidt (ALDE, Sweden) and François Ibovi (Republic of Congo), says that respecting the constitution and the rights of the opposition, independent judiciary and media as well as the fight against corruption are the pillars of democracy in both in North and South.
Water pollution, by Bobbo Hamatoukour (Cameroon) and Christa Klass (EPP, DE), says that access to safe drinking water must be a priority for governments, especially in developing countries. A proper legal framework is needed to guarantee this fundamental right. Water pollution must be tackled by striking a balance between economic viability, social solidarity, employment and environment, adds the report. ACP-EU MPs also call for sanctions to be imposed on polluters who fail to comply with proper environmental standards.
Declarations on aid effectiveness and access to HIV/IADS prevention
The JPA also issued two declarations, one on aid effectiveness with a view to the conference to be held in Busan (South Korea) in November, and the other on universal access to HIV/IADS prevention, addressed to the High Level meeting on AIDS taking place in New York on 16-18 May.
Declaration by the Co-Presidents on Madagascar
On 17 May, the two JPA Co-Presidents of the JPA approved a declaration on the situation in Madagascar, calling for a neutral transitional government and for free elections.
Next meeting in Sierra Leone
The 22nd session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly will take place in Freetown (Sierra Leone) from 21 to 23 November 2011.
Keywords: governance, EU, ACP, donor aid,