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Date: Sat, 27 Nov 1999 14:55:01 -0600 (CST)
From: IGC News Desk <newsdesk@igc.apc.org>
Subject: Africa/Trade-ACP: Leaders Settle on Good Governance Language
Article: 83093
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.13296.19991128091551@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Leaders Settle on Good Governance Language

By Wesley Gibbings, IPS, 26 November 1999

SANTO DOMINGO, Nov 26 (IPS) - Leaders and senior officials of the 71-member African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group negotiated difficult terrain Friday when they agreed to a Summit Declaration which travelled the narrow road of good governance provisions viewed by Europe as integral to any post-Lome IV Accord.

Studiously avoiding direct reference to the controversial term good governance the leaders nevertheless acknowledged that there were destructive actions being perpetrated against the people of some member states. We note with deep regret that armed conflicts cause massive displacement of populations, adversely affect women and children and have long-term consequences for peace, security, the environment and economic development, a draft of the Santo Domingo Declaration says.

One African diplomat conceded that the issue of good governance had been one of the more difficult issues on the two-day agenda.

This has turned out to be our most difficult challenge, he told IPS.

In the end, the leaders settled for language which suggested that there was some external responsibility for managing conflict within the borders of member states.

While calling on those among us engaged in these conflicts to put an end to their destructive actions and assuring them of our active solidarity in that regard, we fervently appeal to the international community to contribute, through substantial efforts, to reducing these conflicts and eliminating the underlying causes, the Declaration says.

These underlying causes, the Declaration says, include the inequitable distribution of wealth and the violation of internationally-recognised borders.

The leaders also urged the international community to help us reduce the burden on countries that grant asylum to refugees and to wage a strong battle against the proliferation of small arms, light weapons, ammunition, anti-personnel landmines, and the illicit arms trade.

It is clear, one senior official told IPS, that we have to be careful about how we discuss this issue it is far more complicated than some people think.

But European officials have been stressing the need to formulate an approach to the issue which recognises the link between accessibility to preferential multi-lateral assistance from the EU and the internal social and political dynamics.

We need to give good governance the political profile it merits, EU Commissioner Poul Nielson says. The new (Lome) Convention must reflect a common commitment which must be at the basis of our relationship.

He however agreed that the issue was too broad to be a condition of a proposed non-execution clause under any new accord.

I understand your concerns as regards the link with the non-execution clause, he told the ACP leaders. I share these concerns.

Good governance is a useful and important concept but it is too broad and too general to be linked to the non-execution clause, he said.

I am ready to consider ways of identifying more clearly the type of cases which have to trigger appropriate reactions on both sides, he added.

But ACP delegates here have been expressing some concern regarding the trigger mechanism.

One ambassador asked IPS: What is going to be the starting and the ending point? Who or what is going to determine when good governance ends and bad governance starts?

But Nielson said he had a clear idea of the essential points. The core of what we really think about here, he said, is the problem of corruption.

Let's face this directly and relate to it directly instead, he said.

There have, however, been far broader definitions of the term over months of negotiations.

The Declaration nevertheless addresses this particular concern via a clause which recognises the evolution of crime into a well-organised transnational and sophisticated force jeopardising the stability of our states.

(We) note that our territories have in varying degrees been used as sites or transshipment points for narcotics trafficking as well as conduits for the laundering of its proceeds, it says.

We strongly commit ourselves to continue the fight against drug trafficking and money laundering in a well coordinated international effort, the Declaration adds.

In that regard, the Santo Domingo Plan of Action, which accompanies the Declaration, mandates the creation of a Working Group on organised crime, drug trafficking and money laundering.

It also calls for deeper cooperation between the ACP states and institutions as well as between these ACP entities and other parties.

As the second-ever ACP Summit closed here, there appeared to be high hopes that the diplomatic manoeuvres on this ticklish issue had achieved at least relative success.

A suitable verdict may well be delivered at key negotiations on a way forward for the EU and the ACP between Dec 6 and 8 in Brussels discussions viewed by many as perhaps the decisive moment in the pursuit of life after Lome IV.