Leadership Council for Human Rights

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Africa-EU summit will sidestep human rights, analysts say

There is agreement that human rights needs to be an issue addressed at the Africa-EU summit being launched in Portugal this weekend, however, analysts and academics from both Europe and Africa doubt that any real progress will be made on the matter, AllAfrica.com reported Thursday, citing Inter Press Service.

“It is an unavoidable truth that human rights and democratic values are one level below strategic interests,” said researcher Manuela Franco at the Portuguese Institute of International Relations.

The summit, being held Saturday and Sunday in Lisbon, will include 52 government delegations from Africa and 27 from EU member states, as well as observers from the African Union, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

The official aim of the summit was summed up by Portuguese Foreign Minister Luís Amado, who said that what is important is that “problems are tackled in a multilateral manner, since they are not limited to a single state.”

According to Angolan Ambassador Assunção Afonso de Sousa dos Anjos, cooperation between Africa and Europe “is essential for fomenting development,” but “we must be our own architects.”

The relationship between Europe and Africa is being promoted in large part due to the increasing influence of China in Africa, Franco said.

Pointing to China, political analyst Eugenio Costa Almeida argued that when economic interests are at stake, the EU forgets about human rights.

“It is China that most protects the African countries I mentioned, due to its interest in fossil fuels and minerals, while Europe continues to see Africa as a market for its products, rather than a partner on an equal footing,” he said.

The issue of human rights first came up when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced he would not attend the summit if Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe did.

For the full article, click here.

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