27 Mar 2014

Towards a Euro-African Alliance for Peace, Security and Development

An idea to develop a new impetus in Africa-Europe relations on the eve of the 4th EU-Africa Summit

A new impetus in Africa-Europe relations is sorely needed. By the middle of the twenty-first century, Africa and Europe will have 2.5 billion citizens that share a common border with close economic, cultural and linguistic ties that need to peacefully co-exist.

If current trends persist then security and development will remain at the top of the priorities of the two continents. Both Europe and Africa must focus on this core area of mutual interest in the long term.

The 4th Africa – EU summit takes place in Brussels on 2 – 3 April. For the convening leaders, I am proposing a Euro-African Alliance (Treaty) for Peace, Security and Development.

My argument is built around seven pillars, outlined in further detail in my paper. These are:

- Peace and security can act as the mainspring of EU-Africa relations;

- There will be ever growing common challenges in Europe and Africa in an area inhabited by 2.5 billion people by 2050;

- The management, prevention, and resolving of crises and their consequences for Africa and Europe will become an ever more pressing need.

- The security-development nexus will demand a multi-dimensional long-term approach;

- Both Africa and Europe need to pool resources to a critical mass in order to address these issues effectively;

- The Joint Africa-EU Strategy needs to evolve to become a security and defence Treaty between the two Unions as well as a political alliance

The road towards a Euro-African Alliance for Peace, Security and Development

On substance my proposal suggests to go beyond the current policy framework of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership and the rhetoric of the Summit meetings that take place every three years. To be recognised and effective, the commitments by the partners on both sides of the Mediterranean must be fixed in a formal agreement that will consolidate the Africa-EU Partnership into a legally binding framework.

In Europe, although it is up to the EU institutions to inject a new momentum in this area, Member States should take their responsibility, hence the need for a binding agreement, which they cannot evade according to national interests.

Neither the Cotonou Agreement and its ACP nebula, nor the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) in their current state can meet this dual concern of strategic and legal commitment. Both provide a starting point to the feasibility of the project I propose - Cotonou for the legal force of its framework and the JAES for the political dialogue between the two Unions with its new approaches to security and international cooperation.

My proposal is financially and politically feasible as a pragmatic and legal variation of the Strategic Partnership outlined in Lisbon in 2007 and confirmed in Tripoli in 2010[1]. It draws lessons from experience - from the Libyan crisis, Mali, Somalia and the 'Arab Springs' and other regional or international security challenges.

Offering a real anchor point for a revival of the European defence project with the ambition to better link peace, security and development, the proposal would in turn meet the expectations of citizens on both sides of the Mediterranean. It could also enhance the mutual promotion of strategic interests between the EU and Africa as a whole (AU + Morocco).

The fundamental issues of EU-Africa relations in the coming years will be the conflicts, crises  and the consequences of the Arab Spring. A more ambitious and more integrated partnership approach will have to succeed the current practise of interventions in 'silos' through national means or instruments of the kind seen in the EU’s African Peace Facility.

In Europe, the mutualisation of security and defence resources, urged by the Euro and budgetary  crises, could lead to a revival of the European defence policy. Between Europe and Africa, an international treaty in the form of an Alliance for peace, security and development would address more effectively the common challenges of the two continents. It would further optimise the pooling of resources on the two sides whilst boosting the integration process of the two Unions.

It is now time to take Europe-Africa relations to the next level.


Philippe Darmuzey, is an Honorary Director European Commission and is a former Director of the Pan African Division in the European Commission’s DG DEVCO. 

He writes this in a personal capacity and the views expressed may not represent that of ECDPM

Photo courtesy of the European External Action Service (EEAS)

[1] Strategic Partnership and Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) adopted at the Lisbon Summit, 7-8 December 2007.

24 Mar 2014

The Zimbabwe Sanctions Never Worked

The EU removed sanctions on some of Zimbabwe's elite this week. It should drop the rest as soon as possible. They have been a complete failure.

On 17th February, the European Union further pared down its list of Zimbabwean sanctions, suspending so-called 'targeted measures' against eight members of the country's political and military elite. Sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his wife remained in place.

Since their imposition in 2002, EU sanctions have both expanded and contracted in size and scope, and have ultimately showcased EU foreign policy at its most ineffective and increasingly unjustifiable.

Sanctions against Zimbabwe have failed completely. That may seem like a bold statement, but the main thing militating against it is the awkward fact that to demonstrate a policy’s failure, one must first be able to articulate what that policy was intended to do. When it comes to EU (as well as US, Canadian and Australian) sanctions against Zimbabwe, that's not an easy task.

What's the point of sanctions?

Let's start by turning the clock back to 14 June 2004 when Tony Blair informed the UK House of Commons that: “these measures and sanctions…are of limited effect on the Mugabe regime. We must be realistic about that. It is still important that we give every chance to, and make every effort to try to help, those in south Africa − the southern part of Africa − to put pressure for change on the Mugabe regime, because there is no salvation for the people of Zimbabwe until that regime is changed.”

This was classic Blair, underlining several crucial aspects of his approach to Mugabe: the idea of "regime change", the missionary zeal to pursue "salvation", the pragmatism to recognise that sanctions are actually ineffective, and the conviction that it is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which holds the key diplomatic position. (Such statements, combined with what we already know of Blair’s foreign policy lend plausibility to former South African president Thabo Mbeki’s recent claim that the former British prime minister urged South Africa to assist military action to overthrow Mugabe.)

If we use Blair’s stated goal of regime change as the metric against which to judge the success or failure of 12 years of sanctions, there can be only one judgement: abject failure. British prime ministers have come and gone, and Mugabe has seen them one by one (five and counting). It is hard to imagine Mugabe leaving office, except at a time of his own choosing or when age and infirmity finally take their toll.

Furthermore, the inconsistently-enforced partial asset freeze and travel ban on Mugabe and his wife is hardly any easier to defend on the grounds that it does anything to foster democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights − which is the broader justification for the EU measures. Blair’s defence of sanctions suggested that they helped to support SADC-mediated change. But Mugabe has used the presence of Western sanctions to deft rhetorical effect at every opportunity, and SADC-mandated facilitators have repeatedly called for the removal of sanctions, seeing them as an obstacle to progress.

The US Ambassador to Harare was right to say last week that “sanctions don’t create potholes,” but this underplays the extent to which they have created diplomatic potholes into which opportunities for progress have often fallen.
Confused leaders?

The total failure yet curious longevity of the targeted measures demonstrate something about sanctions in general − namely the distinction between what we might crudely call ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sanctions.

For sanctions to be ‘good’ they must form part of coherent, focused policies designed to achieve specific, feasible changes. But the measures against Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s worst human rights abusers and wealth-expropriators were never part of carefully-calibrated, coordinated, multilateral efforts to either change the behaviour of the Mugabe government or precipitate regime change.

For sanctions to change the behaviour of any state, they must also be uniformly and consistently enforced. But freezing assets in UK or US financial institutions and prohibiting London shopping trips was never going to exert influence over an elite which could effortlessly switch their shopping sprees and bank accounts to South Africa or Asia. And with a long queue of Chinese and other investors seeking access to Zimbabwe’s diamond wealth, the Mugabe government’s retention of political power and building up of personal fortunes could continue apace.

It is possible, then, that sanctions were an instance of Blair’s reach exceeding his grasp. But another way to see it would be as an example of a phenomenon Henry Kissinger described whereby “confused leaders…substitute public relations manoeuvre for a sense of direction.” Far from being a failed attempt at ‘good’ sanctions, this approach would see the sanctions as deliberately symbolic and aimed at appeasing a domestic audience keen to see their government "doing something" even though it may achieve nothing in practice.

A petulant symbol

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of this whole sorry saga is the historical inconsistency and double standards it highlights. After all, arguably Mugabe’s most reproachable act as a political leader was the Gukurahundi − the brutal killing of an estimated 20,000 mostly Ndebele citizens − which was conducted seven years before his was awarded a knighthood in 1994.

We shouldn't doubt the good faith of the EU's commitment to democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, but it is undeniable that this concern was much too slow in coming, and it is extremely regrettable (to say the least) that it was the plight of the country's white minority commercial farmers that first precipitated this shift.

Sanctions continue to fail because they are not fit for the purpose of changing the behaviour of Mugabe’s regime, still less for effecting the removal of that regime. That Blair conceded as much in 2004 should give pause for thought as we see the measures pointlessly extended for another year. They are now little more than a petulant symbol of Western disapproval for Mugabe himself.

It would be better by far to press the reset button, eliminate the measures entirely, and focus attention on the many excellent development projects funded by Western donors throughout the period of sanctions. Better still would be to support the efforts of civil society groups to pursue criminal proceedings against those guilty of human rights abuses. As we have seen, sanctions − the largely symbolic acts of disapproving Western nations − are unlikely to help in the pursuit of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

This article first appeared in Think Africa Press

Photo courtesy of Government of South Africa.

This is a guest post; views may not represent that of ECDPM

21 Mar 2014

What next for Africa-EU Relations? LIVE Google Hangout

What next for Africa-EU Relations?

On 2-3 April Africa and EU leaders will meet in Brussels to agree a way forward of this 50 year old relationship. Both continent face a few questions in a changed world Is the relationship in its current form sustainable? What about the joint institutions through which the relationship is managed? Are they still relevant today? What will happen after the Cotonou Agreement expires in 2020 Are the regional groupings founded on colonial ideology still relevant today? 

Is the relationship flexible enough to deal with changes within the international community such as the new providers of development aid? Join us as we explore these issues. main Discussants include, Jimmy Kainja- Media Scholar and Lecturer in media studies,  TMS Ruge- Lead Social Media Consultant at the World Bank Georgina Awoonor-Gordon-Programme Manager Common Ground Initiative: Enterprise & Employment ¦Health- COMIC RELIEF.

Nick Westcott answers Qs on EU-Africa

The EEAS Africa Director Nick Westcott answered Qs live on the EU-Africa Summit using the hashtag #AskWestcott.

20 Mar 2014

The IV EU – Africa Summit: an intercontinental strategy adrift?

by Marta Martinelli

The meeting will take place in Brussels on April 2and 3, 2014, gathering African and European partners under the theme ‘Investing in people, prosperity and peace.’

The IV EU – Africa Summit will take place in Brussels on April 2and 3, 2014, gathering African and European partners under the theme ‘Investing in people, prosperity and peace.’ Notwithstanding the good promises, the preparation process that has been done lately showed several cracks between the two continents.

Signed in Brussels in 2007, the EU – Africa joint partnership aimed at creating a ‘relationship between peers,’ focused on the populations of the two continents. The testing ground of the partnership, and consequently its importance, would have been measured through the benefits generated for European and African citizens. Yet, something hasn’t worked properly so far – it will be necessary to analyse the proposals for reform brought about by both Member States and civil society, keeping into account how global dynamics have evolved both in Africa and in Europe.

What has changed then, since 2007? The European Union is suffering for a massive loss in credibility into the African continent, yet it refuses to face the consequences. The Arab world has been overwhelmed by crisis for years, tragically highlighting that the enduring authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Libya was supported even by Europe; that the European Union is moved by ‘ground-level’ principles such as geopolitical stability and trade, more than by human rights and democracy. The revolutionary changes occurred in these two African countries took them out of the scene, hence pan-African development and African continental institutions improvement missed two of their leading actors. Both Egypt and Libya were among the main financial promoters of the African Union, crucial engines for intercontinental relationships with the European Union. Their progressive weakening has undoubtedly slowed down the relationships between the two continents, and triggered the internal fight for power in the appointment of the President of the African Commission, ended up in a victory of South Africa.

On the other hand, Africa is becoming more and more self-confident, diversifying its partnerships, in particular with China, India and Brazil; it has been reducing its dependency from traditional allies – such as the EU. Its renewed self-confidence lies on the awareness of being a ‘young’ continent, targeted by international investors even during a lingering financial crisis. This new awareness allowed Africa to show its dissent on the international stage, at the UN or during the WTO for instance.

The controversies connected with the International Criminal Court, accused of pestering African Heads of State and of being the new tool for Western countries in managing the world order, are poisoning the relationships between the two partners. Dealing with this matter, the European Union has repeatedly asked Africa to solve the issue at The Hague, instead of Brussels. Yet, the EU was committed in dealing with Africa as a ‘peer’ since the signing of the agreement, while it did not hesitate in signing bilateral economic agreements with other African actors, complying with the end of privileged exchange regimes as imposed by the World Trade Organization. For sure their actions were aimed at creating a ‘no-barrier’ market – yet they did not take into consideration that Africa is quite late in political and industrial policies development. To cap it all, several western strategic allies, such as Nigeria and Uganda, has recently adopted laws criminalising LGBTs, and both the EU and the US have expressed their deep disappointment, threatening retaliations – which have led to nothing. It won’t be an easy summit.

Yet, there would be several reasons to renew mutual efforts: both continents are suffering for the effects of climate change, with disastrous effects on food safety and on the stability of entire areas. The economic and financial crisis forces these partners to make joint efforts for fighting tax evasion and corruption, subtracting remarkable funds to both Africa and Europe, reducing their investments in services. Africa is rich in the natural resources Europe needs so much, and the regimes regulating minerals extraction and use need to be reviewed. Finally yet importantly, migration flows – generated by both extreme poverty and humanitarian crises overwhelming Africa – need to be regulated on the basis of not only safety policies, but also aiming to create real job opportunities and to respect human rights.

The political dialogue generated by the partnership is crucial, yet it cannot be an end to itself. It shall be a tool for realizing joint benefits for European and African citizens. Failing this, it could turn into another beautiful, empty shell.

Marta Martinelli is Senior Policy Analyst, EU External Relations at the Open Society European Policy Institute. She writes in her personal capacity.

This post first appeared in EU News

This is a guest post; views may not represent that of ECDPM

Photo Courtesy of the European External Action Service (EEAS)