European Scrutiny Committee Contents

18 EU restrictive measures against the Republic of Guinea


Draft Council Decision modifying certain restrictive measures in respect of Guinea

Legal baseArticle 29 TEU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 8 October 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (31404)—: HC 5-xiv (2009-10) chapter 4 (17 March 2010); also see (31133) —: HC 5-ii (2009-10), chapter 10, (25 November 2009); (30721) 11429/09 —: HC 19-xxiv (2008-09), chapter 8 (15 July 2009) and (26227) 16041/04, (29544) 7499/08 and (30446) 6543/09: HC 19-x (2008-09), chapters 7 and 8 (11 March 2009)
To be discussed in CouncilOctober 2010
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


18.1 Under Article 96 of the 2000 Cotonou Agreement between the EU and 77 ACP countries, either party may invite the other for consultations if it considers that the other has failed to respect the "essential" political elements in Article 9: human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, or to provide good governance. Strengthening this political dimension was one of the main changes introduced in the 2005 revision of the Agreement.

18.2 At the end of 2003, the Commission proposed such consultations with the government of the Republic of Guinea (GOG), having attempted for the previous two years to resolve various democratic shortcomings through normal Article 8 political dialogue, but without success.

18.3 The previous Committee took a particular interest in the Article 96 process in Guinea because the undertakings given by the GOG were all in areas in which success, or failure, might well have much wider lessons, or repercussions, and not just for the Cotonou Process but also ESDP: a number of other ACP countries were similarly challenged, against a background in which the inter-relationship between development, security and good governance was now widely acknowledged. As it noted, the Cotonou Agreement is clear: respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law are essential elements of the partnership, with the Commission characterising the revision of the political components in 2005 as "strengthening the political dimension by placing greater emphasis on effective dialogue and results"; against the yardstick set out in those last four words, they found it difficult to find much persuasive evidence that the Article 96 process had, to use the then Minister for Europe's words, led to the Cotonou provisions being taken seriously — after over five years of Article 96 engagement, Guinea seemed to be no nearer than it was then to a functioning democratic and law-based society.[74]

18.4 Subsequent developments are set out in the Report referred to above and those referred to therein.[75] As these Reports note, a bloodless coup took place on 23 December 2008, following the death of the then President after a long illness, when a military junta calling itself the National Council for Democracy and Development (NCDD) seized power and its leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, declared himself President. In response, further Article 96 consultations were initiated; subsequently, the Commission proposed that they be closed, and a staged process initiated whereby, in return for measured progress towards, and the holding of, "free and transparent" elections, normal relations would be restored.

18.5 The then Minister for Europe (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead) supported this proposal, arguing that it was important that the EU played a constructive role in assisting Guinea's transition to constitutional order and democracy. She was, however, concerned that the "broadly encouraging undertakings" offered during the Article 96 consultations had "not been followed up by action": she thought it wise that the Commission had proposed that the EU continued to monitor the situation closely over a period of 24 months, with a regular review at least once every six months, and had reserved the right to amend the "appropriate measures" in the light of the interim authorities' implementation of the commitments they had entered into.

18.6 Then, on 28 September 2009, unarmed opposition supporters, protesting at Captain Dadis Camara's intention to run for President next year (despite having forsworn this when he seized power) were killed by soldiers in the capital, Conakry. This was condemned by the EU, the US, the AU and ECOWAS; the latter two took the lead to resolve the political crisis and prevent further violence.

18.7 Against this background, the 26-27 October General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) adopted Common Position 2009/788/CFSP imposing an arms embargo and travel restrictions targeting members of the military junta and individuals associated with them who were responsible for the violent repression of 28 September or the political stalemate in the country. The EU thus intended both to bolster any AU/ECOWAS sanctions on Guinea and send a coordinated and strong message that it condemned the violent crackdown.

18.8 In his Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the draft Common Position, the then Minister of Europe (Chris Bryant) said that in view of the lack of progress made by the military junta following repeated calls to restore the rule of law, he strongly agreed that restrictive measures were necessary to reaffirm those calls, and as "a sign of international resolve and support to ECOWAS and AU efforts to mediate." The Common Position applied for 12 months, the then Minister said, but the EU intended to review the measures in the coming months against any steps taken by the military junta to restore the rule of law, and "if no positive steps have been taken, the EU will consider imposing further restrictive measures."

The previous Committee's assessment

18.9 In clearing the document, the previous Committee said that it could not avoid wondering nonetheless how effective the Common Position was likely to be. Guinea is the world's largest bauxite exporter and has significant deposits of gold, diamond, uranium and iron ore — resources that allowed Lansana Conte, the former dictator, to survive periods of international isolation; and its oil prospects had recently drawn attention after discoveries in nearby countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, leading (according to media reports) to oil and minerals deals being under negotiation between Guinea's military government and the China International Fund, who would provide the lion's share of finance for about $7bn worth of projects, ranging from power-generation to the creation of an airline.

18.10 Noting that two EU courses of action — this Common Position and the action taken under the Cotonou Agreement — were to be reviewed in the coming months, with the likelihood that further action would be proposed under one or the other, or both, the previous Committee asked that, when any Explanatory Memorandum was put forward on such subsequent action, the Minister concerned should ensure that it included his views on this wider perspective of China's activity in the country and the region, and its impact on the effectiveness of EU action.

18.11 In a subsequent Explanatory Memorandum of 11 March 2010, the then Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Ivan Lewis) explained that in view of what he said was tangible progress recently made under mediator President Compaore towards the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea, the Council of the European Union had now agreed that, as a gesture of goodwill, the EU travel ban should be lifted on four individuals.

18.12 After reviewing the events leading up to last September, when "156 peaceful protestors were killed and there were reports of mass rapes and other human rights atrocities", the then Minister went on to say that these events and the resultant UN Secretary General's Commission of Inquiry report had dictated the UK and the international community's response to Guinea. The report clearly identified Dadis Camara and other leading figures in the Guinean regime as responsible for events on 28 September. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court was currently examining the situation in Guinea; the Deputy Prosecutor had visited Guinea in February 2010 and described the events around 28 September 2009 as crimes against humanity.

18.13 He also reported that on 3 December 2009 Dadis Camara had been shot in the head by his Aide de Camp, Toumba Diakite, during an argument about responsibility for the massacre on 28 September; had been taken to Morocco for treatment; and was later moved to Burkina Faso where he was likely to remain.

18.14 He then went on to outline the political process, whereby the AU and ECOWAS, working with appointed mediator, President Compaore of Burkina Faso, had taken the lead in attempts to resolve the political crisis and prevent further violence and appointed Sekouba Konate as interim President. An Agreement was signed in Ouagadougou on 15 January 2010 agreeing to the establishment of a unity transitional government. Jean-Marie Dore had been sworn in as interim Prime Minister on 26 January and his cabinet — a coalition of 10 NCDD members and opposition members— sworn in on 15 February. The Agreement provided an excellent opportunity to restore constitutional rule in Guinea. Interim President Konate announced on 6 March that Presidential elections would be held on 27 June 2010. The UK, along with EU partners, was now keen to recognise progress under the transition and favoured lifting the EU travel ban on four individuals who had been helpful in brokering the Ouagadougou Agreement and putting the transitional process in place: Interim President Sekouba Konate; Mamadou Toto Camara (Minister of Security); Lieutenant Colonel Keletigui Faro (Minister of Agriculture) and Kabine Komara (previously Prime Minister).

18.15 The then Minister concluded by noting that the proposal was due to be adopted by written procedure at the Council on 25 March 2010.

The previous Committee's assessment

18.16 The previous Committee said that, though the way in which the main obstacle to progress had been removed was hardly the sort of transition process that the Council would have had in mind, the rest of what the Minister described appeared to warrant the relaxation of the measures in the way proposed.

18.17 In clearing the proposal, it took the opportunity to remind the then Minister of its earlier request for his assessment of the impact of Chinese activity in Guinea and more widely on EU efforts to encourage and bolster democratic development (c.f. paragraph 18.10 above) and ask that, the next time any change is proposed to either this Common Position or to the action taken under the Cotonou Agreement, this is provided along with the evidence justifying the proposal.

The draft Council Decision

18.18 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 8 October 2010, the Minister for Europe (David Lidington) says that progress has been seen: a first round of Presidential elections took place in June under Interim President Sekouba Konate; no single candidate won outright; the second round due to take place in September had been postponed; this is now scheduled for 24 October.

18.19 Against this background, Member States were agreed that restrictive measures should be kept in place until the electoral process is complete and a democratically elected government is in place.

The Government's view

18.20 The Minister assesses that the measures in place "send a strong signal that the EU expects the election process to be completed satisfactorily and a democratic government put in place."

18.21 As with his predecessors, he also notes that the Common Position, which applies for a period of 12 months, "will be continually under review in the coming months once the election process has been completed", and says that "if the election process has not been completed or a democratic government is not in place the EU will consider imposing further restrictive measures."


18.22 The jury thus continues to be out with regard to the effectiveness of these and the related Cotonou Agreement measures.

18.23 We now clear the document.

18.24 In so doing, we reiterate our predecessors' request: that when any further action is proposed, either in this context or that of the Cotonou Agreement, any Explanatory Memorandum on such subsequent action should include the Minister's views on the wider perspective of China's activity in the country and the region, and its impact on the effectiveness of EU action.

74   (26227) 16041/04 and (29544) 7499/08; see headnote. Back

75   (31133) -: HC 5-ii (2009-10), chapter 10 (25 November 2009) and (30721) 11429/09: HC 19-xxiv (2008-09), chapter 8 (15 July 2009); see headnote. Back

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