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Cooperation with ACP States involved in armed conflicts

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Cooperation with ACP States involved in armed conflicts

This communication aims to review the Community's cooperation with ACP States at war with a view to preventing the diversion of funds to military uses.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament of 19 May 1999 on cooperation with ACP States involved in armed conflict [COM(1999)240 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


Background The escalation of conflicts in ACP countries, particularly in Africa, requires a review of the Community's cooperation with ACP States. In light of the close links established by the Lomé Convention, replaced in 2000 by the Cotonou Agreement, the European Community has a special responsibility to help ACP States to find peaceful solutions to their conflicts. In particular, it must ensure that the Community funds provided to ACP States are not diverted to military uses.

The communication sets out the various measures and policies available to enable the EU to react to different conflict scenarios in ACP States. The main aim of this review is to prevent the diversion of Community funds to military purposes.

Measures within the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and within the Community framework

Disbursement of funds in instalments

In all financing agreements concerning direct budgetary assistance, the Commission is now introducing provisions that enable funds to be disbursed in stages on the basis of individual assessments. This requires complete budget transparency and enables the Commission to monitor closely the use of Community funds.

Freezing, reducing or suspending aid This involves freezing the implementation of projects or any further budgetary assistance, reducing aid or suspending it. It may occur in the following circumstances:

  • freezing implementation pending an investigation or stopping certain programmes if the funds are likely to be diverted to military uses;
  • suspending aid in cases of serious violations (as a result of an armed conflict) of human rights and other key elements, such as democratic principles (Articles 96 and 97 and Articles 9 and 10 of the Cotonou Agreement). The Community holds consultations with the country concerned in order to determine whether suspension of aid is necessary;
  • suspending aid in cases where economic sanctions are imposed by the United Nations Security Council.

Freezing aid may concern the disbursement of funds or result in programmes being stopped. Suspending aid consists of a temporary interruption in financing and programmes in certain areas, for example food security or provisions relating to funds for development cooperation in the Cotonou Agreement.

Conditions for freezing or stopping Community aid under the Cotonou Agreement or within the Community framework It should be noted that suspending aid is an extreme measure. Where aid is frozen or suspended with a view to motivating peaceful solutions, the following aspects must be taken into consideration:

  • the degree of fungibility of funding, in other words the speed and ease with which funds may be diverted to support the war effort;
  • the political and social repercussions of the measures implemented, particularly in relation to the fight against poverty;
  • the administrative flexibility permitting the freezing and re-launching of aid programmes.

The decisions must be based on the individual assessments of the countries and the instruments involved. The measures should be applied in an impartial and proportional manner.

Humanitarian aid

Humanitarian aid must be provided wherever needed on condition that the necessary security conditions exist. It should not be subject to political objectives. However, its potential impact on the course of the conflict should be assessed.

Options for the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) The review of development cooperation with the countries involved in armed conflicts must form part of an integrated strategy for conflict management and resolution within the framework of the CFSP. The strategy must be flexible and appropriate to the situation on the ground in each region in crisis. It must also take account of the historical, social, economic and political factors at the root of the hostilities, plus the motivations of the parties concerned.

The communication proposes general guidelines for a global EU approach in the following three main situations:

Outbreak, escalation or spread of an armed conflict:

  • complete or partial interruption of development cooperation followed by the implementation of Community measures to resolve the problem;
  • use of other tools such as restrictions on arms exports, trade relations, etc.;
  • use of CFSP instruments (statements issued by the presidency, joint actions, special envoys) to seek solutions to the conflict;
  • involvement of the European Union in the planning of operations to restore peace undertaken in the international arena;
  • establishment of emergency plans for regions susceptible to humanitarian disasters linked to war, such as genocide, "ethnic cleansing", etc. In the case of such disasters, the provisions of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter could come into play;
  • use of existing measures to improve the control of arms flows to countries involved in armed conflicts;
  • a coherent response from the Union. All decisions to suspend Community aid must be accompanied by similar action on the part of the Member States of the Union in terms of their bilateral aid in order to guarantee a coherent approach and to maximise the impact of the Union's policy.

Cessation of hostilities and negotiations:

  • the CFSP must offer support for dialogue and negotiations by sending special envoys, and, where necessary, participating in the efforts to maintain peace;
  • the Commission and the Member States may offer technical and financial assistance for the operations to be carried out after the war, particularly in the socio-economic field, for example the reintegration of refugees.

Breakdown of State authority:

The erosion of State authority and of the management capacity of many African countries has resulted in a particular risk of lasting breakdown of State authority. In order to protect the most vulnerable countries, the European Union may:

  • provide humanitarian aid;
  • provide basic assistance to the social sector through United Nations agencies, international organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs);
  • provide aid on a political and economic level to neighbouring countries where there is a breakdown that threatens regional security. This is only envisaged for specific cases. Naturally, such aid would depend on the will of the beneficiary government and respect for fundamental values such as human rights, democratic principles and complete transparency in relation to military expenditure.

Conflict prevention All political responses to an armed conflict must be considered as emergency responses resulting from a failure in conflict prevention measures. The European Union must be prepared to manage and resolve these violent crises. However, first and foremost, the Union must concentrate on conflict prevention.

Last updated: 31.07.2007