Government delays signing of OACPS-EU agreement in Samoa for further consultations

The government has decided to delay the signing of the Agreement between the Organization of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union (EU) in Samoa.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Partnership Agreement between the EU and its Member States, and the OACPS will be signed in Samoa.

This agreement aims to serve as a framework for relations between the two parties over the next 20 years, covering various areas of common interest such as investment, environmental sustainability, climate change, irregular migration, and good governance.

While Uganda shares common ground with its EU partners on many of the issues addressed in the Agreement, the government has expressed concerns and reservations about certain concepts.

As a result, they have decided to defer the signing of the Agreement until they can engage further with national stakeholders.

The statement explains that Uganda is currently conducting internal consultations to ensure a common understanding of concepts like marginalized groups, sex, gender equality, sexual and gender-based discrimination, vulnerable groups, and sexuality education, which are contained in the Agreement.

The government recognizes the geographical, historical, and structural differences that underpin the regions involved in the Agreement.

They believe that unity across regions would be the most beneficial approach.

In the past, the OACPS has functioned as a single group in its relations with the EU.

However, the new Agreement introduces Regional Councils of Ministers and Regional Parliamentary Assemblies for each African, Caribbean, and Pacific region, while still maintaining the EU as one bloc.

This arrangement, although reinforcing the existing separation of regions, goes against the essential premise of unity that Uganda advocates for.

The government is concerned that this regional separation may not support fair engagement of member states, as the regions may not have equal bargaining capacities.

Additionally, the elevation of the Agreement above existing bilateral or other agreements between individual EU Member States and OACPS States raises further concerns.

The Agreement stipulates that no other treaty, convention, agreement, or arrangement between EU member states and OACPS members should impede its implementation.

This could undermine bilateral and regional commitments that Member States have developed over the years, potentially affecting interstate relations.

The government emphasises that States can only be bound by agreements they have freely negotiated or acceded to.

They also highlight the need to ensure that the Agreement aligns with Uganda's Constitution, parliamentary processes, and cabinet procedures for international conventions.

Despite the decision to defer signing the Agreement, the government affirms that Uganda remains open to participating in dialogues, processes, and forums arranged in the future.

They hope to address their concerns and bring on board other OACPS states that share similar reservations about the Agreement.

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