Namibia Ratifies New Cotonou Accord

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Namibia recently joined other countries in signing the Revised ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement, which is the trade accord between members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and the European Union (EU) and its member states. The Cotonou Agreement, which was concluded for a 20-year period from March 2000 to February 2020, entered into force in April 2003, following a three-year transitional period due to ratification deadlines. Other ACP countries signed the revised agreement in June 2005. The revised Agreement was concluded during the month of June 2005, in Luxembourg, when the ACP-EU Council of Ministers completed the process of the revision of the Agreement. Due to a revision clause, which foresees that the Agreement is adapted every five years (except for the trade and economic provisions), ACP and EU partners indicated through notice the provisions of the Agreement they wished to amend it at the end of February 2004. The negotiations were launched at the ACP-EU Council of Ministers in Gaborone in May 2004 and concluded in February 2005. This amended the partnership Agreement between the members of the ACP group of countries, and the European Union and its member states signed in June 2000. Although 68 other ACP countries signed the revised Agreement in June 2005, Namibia only signed on December 22. Professor Peter Katjavivi, the Namibian Ambassador to the EU and the Benelux countries, signed the Agreement on behalf of Namibia. A press release from the embassy in Brussels, Belgium said Katjavivi expressed delight “in joining those who have signed the Agreement, and declared Namibia’s readiness to play its part in the promotion of the ACP-EU partnership, in the manner that recognises and supports Namibia and other developing countries’ specific needs.” The Agreement was revised to enhance the effectiveness and quality of the partnership itself and not about the fundamentals of the Agreement. The revision was done on four issues, namely, political dimension, developmental strategy, investment facility and also the procedures for implementation and management. On political dimension, the revision provided the opportunity to put into practice certain security commitments undertaken at international level. In addition, an agreement was reached on the establishment of a more systematic and formal political dialogue. Among the points of agreement were: political dialogue and also a provision for representatives of the ACP Group and of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly to take part in the political dialogue. The amendments strengthen the political dimension of the Cotonou Agreement by placing greater emphasis on effective dialogue and results. ACP-EU partners also agreed to include a reference to cooperation in countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It contains a statement that additional financial and technical assistance will be granted for cooperation on non-proliferation of WMD and that will not be funded from resources intended for ACP-EU development cooperation. “This Agreement constitutes a real breakthrough in the area of international relations and reflects the common commitment of 78 ACP and 25 EU member states to combat the proliferation of WMD,” a note on the revision of the Cotonou Agreement says. The partners also proposed a series of amendments relating to sectoral strategies and an agreement was reached on the Millennium Development Goals, social sector, non-state actors, regional cooperation, information and technology, youth, training knowledge and Island ACP states. To make the investment facility more flexible and more effective, a number of changes were made concerning the conditions attached to loans and interest rate subsidies, exchange rate risk and repayments to the banks. The facility will also be subject to a joint performance review halfway through (midterm) and at the end of the financial protocol. As far as the implementation and management procedures are concerned, a number of points were agreed upon, which include greater flexibility in the allocation of resources, financial management in crisis or conflict resolution, support for initiatives for untying of aid, reformulation of the responsibilities of managing and executing agents, simplifying procedures as well as financial devolutions. – Relations between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and the European Union are a particularly important aspect of development cooperation policy. From 1975 until 2000 these relations between the ACP and the EU were governed by the regularly adapted and updated LomÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© Convention. However, major upheavals on the international stage, socio-economic and political changes in the ACP countries, the spreading of poverty, resulting in instability and potential conflict, all highlighted the need for a re-thinking of cooperation. The February 2000 expiration of the LomÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© Convention provided an ideal opportunity for a thorough review of the future of ACP-EU relations. Against a background of an intensive public debate, based on a Commission Green paper (1996) and a discussion paper, negotiations started in September 1998 and were successfully concluded in early February 2000. The new ACP-EC agreement was signed on 23rd of June 2000 in Co-tonou, Benin and was concluded for a twenty-year period from March 2000 to February 2020. The Cotonou Agreement is a global and exemplary Agreement, introducing radical changes and ambitious objectives while preserving the ‘acquis’ of 25 years of ACP-EU cooperation. It is based on five interdependent pillars with the underlying objective of the fight against poverty: an enhanced political dimension, increased participation, a more strategic approach to cooperation focusing on poverty reduction, new economic and trade partnerships and improved financial cooperation. The Cotonou Agreement provides for a revision clause which foresees that the Agreement is adapted every five years. In accordance with this clause, negotiations to revise the Agreement were launched in May 2004 and concluded on 23rd February 2005. The overriding objective of revision process was to enhance the effectiveness and quality of the ACP-EU partnership. (- Source: European Commission)