Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 May 2006
The revised version of the Cotonou Agreement that sanctions relations between the European Community (EC) and African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) has been endorsed for a further five years. The new agreement contains a chronicle of changes that are significant. This research comment identifies a number of issues where novel provisions have been introduced into the text of the first agreement signed on 23 June, 2000. The new text contains innovations that relate to security, political dialogue, transparency, money and social responsibility. The security clauses include an express commitment by the partners to combat terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as mercenary activities. In addition, adherence to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court is explicitly encouraged. Changes regarding political dialogue and transparency pertain to the increase in the time allotted for political consultation in the event of a serious case of violation of the articles proscribing political excesses and gross financial impropriety. In terms of development money, the list of potential beneficiaries has been widened. However, the net effect of the preceding statement may be obviated by the extensive oversight the EC Commission now has to control the use of funds. Provisions relating to structural reforms have been tempered to reflect the special needs of post-disaster stricken least developed countries. The latter reforms are equally in consonance with the partners' increasing consciousness of the fact that structural adjustment cannot be decoupled from social responsibility. In general terms, the revised Cotonou Agreement strengthens the power asymmetries in the relations.