Third EU-Africa summit: MEPs call for an EU law on “blood minerals”

EP The European Parliament backed plans to create an EU law ensuring traceability of imported minerals, as a tool to combat illegal exploitation of conflict minerals in African countries, in a resolution passed on Wednesday. This resolution assesses the outcome of the third EU-Africa summit of African and European heads of state in Tripoli on 30 November.

MEPs also regretted the participation of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe in the summit and the absence of several European Heads of State.

Among the key positive developments from the Tripoli summit, Parliament cited the new US “conflict Minerals'” law as a huge step forward in combating illegal exploitation of minerals in Africa and called for a similar EU proposal to ensure the traceability of imported minerals on the EU market. It also urged the EU and African Union (AU) to cooperate on sustainable exploitation of raw materials and the transparency of mining contracts.

The same call for an EU law to fight illegal exploitation of minerals had been made by the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Joint Parliamentary Assembly during its 20th session in Kinshasa (Congo) on 2 December.

Those who weren’t there… and those who shouldn’t have been

The resolution expressed support the partnership created by EU and African Heads of State three years ago, including annual summits, which this year led to the adoption of a Strategic Action Plan for 2010-2013.

Yet it strongly regretted the fact that several EU leaders did not attend the summit, and also the fact that Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe had been invited and had actively participated in the meeting, despite the EU’s repeated commitments to democratic governance and human rights.

Human rights obligations

MEPs again stressed that any partnership agreement with African countries needs to be conditional upon non-discrimination on grounds of gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or conviction, disability, age or sexual orientation or against people living with HIV/AIDS.

Some African countries recently managed to have the term “sexual orientation” excluded from the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement – which delineates political and trade relations between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific states and includes human rights requirements. Out of 79 ACP countries, 49 criminalise homosexuality.

Maternal health and food security

Further action to improve maternal health – the most off-track UN Millennium Development Goal – and ensure food security are crucial elements of any strategy to help African countries, said MEPs, deploring the fact that the summit did not discuss the current farmland acquisition in Africa by some government-backed foreign investors, which may easily endanger local food security.

No plan works without money

Finally, MEPs criticized the lack of a financing plan to accompany the Africa-EU joint strategy and call once again for the European Development Fund to be incorporated in the EU budget, so as to ensure parliamentary oversight of its implementation.

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