St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is among countries that have signed the new partnership agreement with the European Union, which one Trinidad-based cleric says will impose “abortion legislation, transgender, LBGTQ, comprehensive sex education, a whole range of values”
Andrea Bowman, SVG Ambassador to Taiwan, signed the agreement on behalf of Kingstown in Samoa last Wednesday.
The accord, known as the Samoa Agreement, will serve as an overarching legal framework for the relations between the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) for the next 20 years.
It replaces the Cotonou Agreement and covers subjects such as sustainable development and growth, human rights and peace and security.
The provisional application of the agreement will start on Jan. 1, 2024. It will enter into force upon consent by the European Parliament and ratification by all EU member states and at least two thirds of the 79 member countries of the OACPS .
However, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Port of Spain, Jason Gordon has criticised the accord, saying that while it is “written as a trade agreement and an agreement of support, financially, etc. for the African Caribbean and Pacific nations, embedded in that agreement and when it is signed it is for 20 years and cannot be revoked … is anyone who signs that agreement will have abortion legislation in their countries.
“They will have to impose abortion legislation, transgender, LBGTQ, comprehensive sex education, a whole range of values will be imposed because of the signing of that document,” Gordon, , who has served as Archbishop of Kingstown, added.
The Caribbean Media Corporation cited media reports as saying that the Caribbean nations of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica and well as Namibia, in Africa, all of which are members of OACPS, have not yet signed the agreement, which the European Commissioner for International Partnership, Jutta Urpilainen, said provides “a modernised framework to revitalise our relations with the largest grouping of partner countries to provide a platform for dialogue and coordination to face the challenges of our times together”.
Gordon said the “EU is imposing upon us an ideology that is not ours and a value system that is not ours.
“And if we don’t understand and wake up and smell the coffee quickly, we will find ourselves with values, with laws, with expectations and with things being touted as right that has nothing to do with us Caribbean people.
“Wake up and smell the coffee. It ain’t far away, it is right here,” the head of the Roman Catholic Church here said, adding that he was thankful to God that the Keith Rowley administration has not signed the document.
“Thank God for that. Our government got wind of it, have seen and understood and they are saying they don’t have enough information to be able to sign …Thank God for that. Jamaica came out clearly and said we are not for sale.
“They came out up front, publicly, and said we are not for sale. It is the rest of the small islands of the Caribbean that I worry about today, because whoever signs that document will then have to impose laws on their people that are not in keeping with the culture, values of us Caribbean people and it will be a colonial imposition one more time on small fragile states, on Africa, Pacific and us here in the Caribbean,” Archbishop Gordon said.
SVG has signed the agreement at a time when the High Court is considering its verdict on a legal challenge to its colonial-era laws that criminalise same-sex relations, even in public.
The state has lost similar legal challenges in all of the other Commonwealth Caribbean countries where such lawsuits were brought.
Last December, an international network of Christians and conservatives based in the Netherlands, said the Samoa agreement imposes demands on African, Caribbean and Pacific states, such as legalising abortion, decriminalising same-sex intimacy, and comprehensive sex education for children, that run contrary to traditional moral values with the 79-member OACPS.
Henk Jan van Schothorst, executive director of Christian Council International (CCI), which seeks to influence policy from a Christian perspective, told CMC that the Samoa Agreement should receive parliamentary approval in each OACPS country before heads of states and governments signed it.
His call on the sidelines of the 10th Summit of Head of States and Government of the OACPS, came as one EU nation had expressed reservation about signing the deal, even as Secretary General of the OACPS, Georges Chikoto had urged the European Union to sign the agreement as soon as possible.
The ACP-EU partnership is one of the oldest and most comprehensive frameworks for cooperation between the EU and third countries. The denomination of the new agreement was agreed at the 46th session of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers in Samoa last week.
Chikoti told last week’s meeting that the new treaty has key provisions for regular review and the involvement of non-state actors.
“I think that an important aspect of this agreement is that partners can sit together every five years to look into where they can do better. I think this engagement is very important for the region…
“Another of the important aspects is that as we move from Cotonou to Samoa, we see engagement will be more and more collective, with civil society participating in all major issues that our regions face. The new agreement fosters large participation from civil society,” he added.
The Samoa Agreement outlines common principles and covers areas including human rights, democracy and governance, peace and security, human and social development inclusive, sustainable economic growth and development, environmental sustainability and climate change migration and mobility
The agreement includes a common foundation, which applies to all parties, combined with three regional protocols for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific with a focus on the specific needs of each region.
The 27 EU member states and the 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries together represent around two billion people and more than half of the seats at the United Nations.
The EU said with this new agreement, the parties will be better equipped to address emerging needs and global challenges, such as climate change, ocean governance, migration, health, peace and security.