Zimbabwe’s Failure to Meet the Benchmarks in the Cotonou Agreement

Unlike its predecessor, the Cotonou Agreement expanded the cooperation between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States into the political sphere, explicitly giving cognisance to the fact that issues of governance are inseparable from economic development. This aspect of the agreement has been successively strengthened, particularly through amendments introduced by Annexure VII, agreed in 2005. One such amendment was to article 9 that also included human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law.

The Cotonou Agreement introduces various instruments designed to ensure compliance, firstly through dialogue under article 8 and then through the enforcement mechanisms of article 96. Section 2(a) of the latter article provides that if the political dialogue procedures fail to gain compliance, and the formal consultation procedures likewise fail to yield a solution acceptable to both parties, “appropriate measures” may be taken.

The flagrant non-compliance of the Zimbabwean government of its obligations under article 9 brought these procedures into play and rapidly led to the adoption of “appropriate measures”. These measures included a freeze on assets and visa restrictions for senior government officials.

As part of the consultation process, the European Union (EU) set various “benchmarks” and Zimbabwe’s progress towards meeting these benchmarks determines whether the appropriate measures should be revoked or renewed. The measures were last renewed in February 2006 and are due for review in 2007. The purpose of this paper is therefore to consider the steps the Zimbabwean government has taken towards or away from these benchmarks in 2006.

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Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.