The use of European aid as a lever of influence on human rights issues in the Global South was scrutinize as part of a public consultation on the future of the Cotonou Agreement. The conclusion was unanimous, European aid must remain conditional upon respect for human rights and the rule of law in recipient countries.
The Cotonou Agreement, adopted in 2000, governs the EU’s political, economic and development relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP group). Human rights, the rule of law and the principles of democracy form one of the main pillars of this agreement, and the conclusion of the public consultation was to keep it that way.
However, some subjects still cause deep divisions between the ACP group – notably its African members – and the European Union. Sexual and minority rights are a particularly incendiary area which have been passed over in silence in the current Cotonou Agreement. The proliferation of laws against LGBTI people in certain African countries, and the EU’s own strong anti-discrimination position promise tension to come.