The Cotonou Agreement (signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 ) (Excerpts)

HAVING REGARD TO the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the one hand, and the Georgetown Agreement establishing the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), on the other;

AFFIRMING their commitment to work together towards the achievement of the objectives of poverty eradication, sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy;

ASSERTING their resolve to make, through their cooperation, a significant contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of the ACP States and to the greater well-being of their population, helping them facing the challenges of globalisation and strengthening the ACP-EU Partnership in the effort to give the process of globalisation a stronger social dimension;

REAFFIRMING their willingness to revitalise their special relationship and to implement a comprehensive and integrated approach for a strengthened partnership based on political dialogue, development cooperation and economic and trade relations;

ACKNOWLEDGING that a political environment guaranteeing peace, security and stability, respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, and good governance is part and parcel of long term development; acknowledging that responsibility for establishing such an environment rests primarily with the countries concerned;

ACKNOWLEDGING that sound and sustainable economic policies are prerequisites for development;

REFERRING to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the conclusions of the 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights, the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the other instruments of international humanitarian law, the 1954 Convention relating to the status of stateless persons, the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 New York Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees;

CONSIDERING the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Council of Europe, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights as positive regional contributions to the respect of human rights in the European Union and in the ACP States;

RECALLING the Libreville and Santo Domingo declarations of the Heads of State and Government of the ACP countries at their Summits in 1997 and 1999;

CONSIDERING that the development targets and principles agreed in United Nations Conferences and the target, set by the OECD Development Assistance Committee, to reduce by one half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by the year 2015 provide a clear vision and must underpin ACP-EU cooperation within this Agreement;

PAYING particular attention to the pledges made at the Rio, Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen, Beijing, Istanbul and Rome UN conferences and acknowledging the need for further action to be taken in order to achieve the goals and implement the action programmes which have been drawn up in those fora;

ANXIOUS to respect basic labour rights, taking account of the principles laid down in the relevant conventions of the International Labour Organisation;

RECALLING the commitments within the framework of the World Trade Organisation,




CHAPTER 1 - Objectives and principles

Article 1 - Objectives of the partnership

The Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the ACP States, of the other part, hereinafter referred to as the "Parties" hereby conclude this Agreement in order to promote and expedite the economic, cultural and social development of the ACP States, with a view to contributing to peace and security and to promoting a stable and democratic political environment.

The partnership shall be centred on the objective of reducing and eventually eradicating poverty consistent with the objectives of sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy.

These objectives and the Parties' international commitments shall inform all development strategies and shall be tackled through an integrated approach taking account at the same time of the political, economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects of development. The partnership shall provide a coherent support framework for the development strategies adopted by each ACP State.

Sustained economic growth, developing the private sector, increasing employment and improving access to productive resources shall all be part of this framework. Support shall be given to the respect of the rights of the individual and meeting basic needs, the promotion of social development and the conditions for an equitable distribution of the fruits of growth. Regional and sub-regional integration processes which foster the integration of the ACP countries into the world economy in terms of trade and private investment shall be encouraged and supported. Building the capacity of the actors in development and improving the institutional framework necessary for social cohesion, for the functioning of a democratic society and market economy, and for the emergence of an active and organised civil society shall be integral to the approach. Systematic account shall be taken of the situation of women and gender issues in all areas - political, economic and social. The principles of sustainable management of natural resources and the environment shall be applied and integrated at every level of the partnership.

Article 2 - Fundamental principles

ACP-EC cooperation, underpinned by a legally binding system and the existence of joint institutions, shall be exercised on the basis of the following fundamental principles:

  • equality of the partners and ownership of the development strategies: for the purposes of implementing the objectives of the partnership, the ACP States shall determine the development strategies for their economies and societies in all sovereignty and with due regard for the essential elements described in Article 9; the partnership shall encourage ownership of the development strategies by the countries and populations concerned;
  • participation: apart from central government as the main partner, the partnership shall be open to different kinds of other actors in order to encourage the integration of all sections of society, including the private sector and civil society organisations, into the mainstream of political, economic and social life;
  • the pivotal role of dialogue and the fulfilment of mutual obligations: the obligations assumed by the Parties in the framework of their dialogue shall be central to their partnership and cooperation relations;
  • differentiation and regionalisation: cooperation arrangements and priorities shall vary according to a partner's level of development, its needs, its performance and its long-term development strategy. Particular emphasis shall be placed on the regional dimension. Special treatment shall be given to the least-developed countries. The vulnerability of landlocked and island countries shall be taken into account.

Article 3 - Achievement of this Agreement's objectives

The Parties shall, each as far as it is concerned in the framework of this Agreement, take all appropriate measures, whether general or particular, to ensure the fulfilment of the obligations arising from this Agreement and to facilitate the attainment of the objectives thereof. They shall refrain from any measures liable to jeopardise these objectives.


ARTICLE 8 - Political dialogue

1. The Parties shall regularly engage in a comprehensive, balanced and deep political dialogue leading to commitments on both sides.

2. The objective of this dialogue shall be to exchange information, to foster mutual understanding, and to facilitate the establishment of agreed priorities and shared agendas, in particular by recognising existing links between the different aspects of the relations between the Parties and the various areas of cooperation as laid down in this Agreement. The dialogue shall facilitate consultations between the Parties within international fora. The objectives of the dialogue shall also include preventing situations arising in which one Party might deem it necessary to have recourse to the non-execution clause.

3. The dialogue shall cover all the aims and objectives laid down in this Agreement as well as all questions of common, general, regional or sub-regional interest. Through dialogue, the Parties shall contribute to peace, security and stability and promote a stable and democratic political environment. It shall encompass cooperation strategies as well as global and sectoral policies, including environment, gender, migration and questions related to the cultural heritage.

4. The dialogue shall focus, inter alia, on specific political issues of mutual concern or of general significance for the attainment of the objectives of this Agreement, such as the arms trade, excessive military expenditure, drugs and organised crime, or ethnic, religious or racial discrimination. The dialogue shall also encompass a regular assessment of the developments concerning the respect for human rights, democratic principles, the rule of law and good governance.

5. Broadly based policies to promote peace and to prevent, manage and resolve violent conflicts shall play a prominent role in this dialogue, as shall the need to take full account of the objective of peace and democratic stability in the definition of priority areas of cooperation.

6. The dialogue shall be conducted in a flexible manner. Dialogue shall be formal or informal according to the need, and conducted within and outside the institutional framework, in the appropriate format, and at the appropriate level including regional, sub-regional or national level.

7. Regional and sub-regional organisations as well as representatives of civil society organisations shall be associated with this dialogue.

ARTICLE 9 - Essential Elements and Fundamental Element

1. Cooperation shall be directed towards sustainable development centred on the human person, who is the main protagonist and beneficiary of development; this entails respect for and promotion of all human rights.

Respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including respect for fundamental social rights, democracy based on the rule of law and transparent and accountable governance are an integral part of sustainable development.

2. The Parties refer to their international obligations and commitments concerning respect for human rights. They reiterate their deep attachment to human dignity and human rights, which are legitimate aspirations of individuals and peoples. Human rights are universal, indivisible and inter-related. The Parties undertake to promote and protect all fundamental freedoms and human rights, be they civil and political, or economic, social and cultural. In this context, the Parties reaffirm the equality of men and women.

The Parties reaffirm that democratisation, development and the protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Democratic principles are universally recognised principles underpinning the organisation of the State to ensure the legitimacy of its authority, the legality of its actions reflected in its constitutional, legislative and regulatory system, and the existence of participatory mechanisms. On the basis of universally recognised principles, each country develops its democratic culture.

The structure of government and the prerogatives of the different powers shall be founded on rule of law, which shall entail in particular effective and accessible means of legal redress, an independent legal system guaranteeing equality before the law and an executive that is fully subject to the law.

Respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, which underpin the ACP-EU Partnership, shall underpin the domestic and international policies of the Parties and constitute the essential elements of this Agreement.

3. In the context of a political and institutional environment that upholds human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, good governance is the transparent and accountable management of human, natural, economic and financial resources for the purposes of equitable and sustainable development. It entails clear decision-making procedures at the level of public authorities, transparent and accountable institutions, the primacy of law in the management and distribution of resources and capacity building for elaborating and implementing measures aiming in particular at preventing and combating corruption.

Good governance, which underpins the ACP-EU Partnership, shall underpin the domestic and international policies of the Parties and constitute a fundamental element of this Agreement. The Parties agree that only serious cases of corruption, including acts of bribery leading to such corruption, as defined in Article 97 constitute a violation of that element.

4. The Partnership shall actively support the promotion of human rights, processes of democratisation, consolidation of the rule of law, and good governance.

These areas will be an important subject for the political dialogue. In the context of this dialogue, the Parties shall attach particular importance to the changes underway and to the continuity of the progress achieved. This regular assessment shall take into account each country's economic, social, cultural and historical context.

These areas will also be a focus of support for development strategies. The Community shall provide support for political, institutional and legal reforms and for building the capacity of public and private actors and civil society in the framework of strategies agreed jointly between the State concerned and the Community.

ARTICLE 10 - Other elements of the political environment

1. The Parties consider the following elements as contributing to the maintenance and consolidation of a stable and democratic political environment:

    sustainable and equitable development involving, inter alia, access to productive resources, essential services and justice; greater involvement of an active and organised civil society and the private sector.

2. The Parties recognise that the principles of the market economy, supported by transparent competition rules and sound economic and social policies, contribute to achieving the objectives of the partnership.

ARTICLE 33 - Institutional development and capacity building

1. Cooperation shall pay systematic attention to institutional aspects and in this context, shall support the efforts of the ACP States to develop and strengthen structures, institutions and procedures that help to:

  • promote and sustain democracy, human dignity, social justice and pluralism, with full respect for diversity within and among societies; promote and sustain universal and full respect for and observance and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms; develop and strengthen the rule of law; and improve access to justice, while guaranteeing the professionalism and independence of the judicial systems; and ensure transparent and accountable governance and administration in all public institutions.

2. The Parties shall work together in the fight against bribery and corruption in all their societies.

3. Cooperation shall support ACP States' efforts to develop their public institutions into a positive force for growth and development and to achieve major improvements in the efficiency of government services as they affect the lives of ordinary people. In this context, cooperation shall assist the reform, rationalisation and the modernisation of the public sector. Specifically, cooperation support shall focus on:

  • the reform and modernisation of the civil service; legal and judicial reforms and modernisation of justice systems; improvement and strengthening of public finance management; accelerating reforms of the banking and financial sector; improvement of the management of public assets and reform of public procurement procedures; and political, administrative, economic and financial decentralisation.

5. Cooperation shall span all areas and sectors of cooperation to foster the emergence of non-State actors and the development of their capacities; and to strengthen structures for information, dialogue and consultation between them and the national authorities, including at regional level.