Sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU-Africa partnership

The Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) between the European Union (EU) and the group of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries will expire in February 2020. Currently, a new agreement is being negotiated.

As negotiations advance, some points of diversion between both parties progressively emerge such as the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) agenda. The EU negotiation directives for a post-Cotonou agreement provides strong commitments towards SRHR, whereas the ACP negotiating mandate discards the rights component which notably implies the risk of strictly putting the focus on “service delivery” (access to quality Sexual and Reproductive Health services for all) rather than on a holistic approach (SRHR).

Attaining and maintaining reproductive and sexual health implies respecting and promoting fundamental human rights, such as the right to decide the number and spacing of one’s children, the right to consensual marriage and sexual relations, the right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to one’s sexuality, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. SRHR, in its comprehensive and holistic sense, is central and fundamental to people’s health and well-being.

The comprehensive nature of the SRHR agenda must be duly reflected in the future EU-Africa pillar of the EU-ACP post-2020 agreement.

This factsheet includes recommendations on how the EU-Africa partnership could integrate and recognise a fully SRHR perspective.

Despite the existence of strong commitments on advancing SRHR in Africa, these progressive aspirations are not translated into actions. The post-Cotonou framework represents a key opportunity to take a bold step in order to make a real difference in people’s lives.

For a full overview over the current status of implementation of continental commitments on women’s and girls’ rights in Africa read this report.