Samoa Agreement: Nigeria’s Commitment and the Question of LGBT Rights

To gain further clarity on this matter, we contacted the European Commission directly. In their response to our email, the European Commission reiterated that the Samoa Agreement encourages the promotion of human rights, including LGBT rights, but does not impose these values on any member state, including Nigeria. This reaffirmation underscores the respect for each country’s sovereignty while promoting a cooperative approach to human rights.

The Samoa Agreement, signed by Nigeria, marks a significant milestone in international relations and cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS). This comprehensive partnership agreement is rooted in six key priorities: human rights, democracy and governance; peace and security; human and social development; inclusive, sustainable economic growth and development; environmental sustainability and climate change; and migration and mobility. This article delves into the essence of the Samoa Agreement, highlighting the encouragement of LGBT rights within Nigeria without imposing such values on its governance framework.

The Samoa Agreement: An Overview

On April 10, 2024, the European Parliament approved the conclusion of the Samoa Agreement, paving the way for a renewed and strengthened partnership between the EU and OACPS members, including Nigeria. The European Parliament’s consent was a prerequisite for the Council to adopt the final decision on the agreement. This agreement encapsulates a shared vision for sustainable development, human rights, and global cooperation.

The six key priorities of the Samoa Agreement are designed to foster holistic development and cooperation:

1.  Rights, Democracy, and Governance: Emphasizing the protection and promotion of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.

2. Peace and Security: Aiming to enhance stability, security, and conflict prevention.

3. Human and Social Development: Focusing on improving health, education, and overall social welfare.

4. Inclusive, Sustainable Economic Growth and Development: Encouraging economic strategies that benefit all sectors of society.

5. Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change: Addressing climate change and promoting sustainable environmental practices.

6. Migration and Mobility: Facilitating safe and regulated migration and mobility of people.

LGBT Rights in the Samoa Agreement

One of the significant aspects of the Samoa Agreement is its approach to human rights, which includes a broad spectrum of rights and freedoms. On April 10, 2024, the European Parliament adopted a report alongside the agreement, highlighting the need for collaboration in areas like renewable energy and climate change adaptation. The report welcomed the commitment to human rights but expressed regret over the absence of explicit mentions of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The European Parliament Research Service briefing from December 2023 notes, “while the parties will commit ‘to promote, protect and fulfil all human rights be they civil, political, economic, social or cultural’, some ACP states were reluctant to see the foundation agreement mention sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBT rights) – an issue on which there are also differences among EU Member States.”

Nigeria’s Position on LGBT Rights

Nigeria, as one of the signatories to the Samoa Agreement, is encouraged to uphold human rights as part of the international commitment. However, it is important to clarify that the Samoa Agreement does not impose LGBT rights on the Nigerian government. Instead, it encourages dialogue and cooperation on human rights issues, respecting the sovereignty and legal frameworks of each member state.

The inclusion of broad human rights commitments aims to create a platform for continuous dialogue and gradual progress. It acknowledges the diverse cultural, social, and legal landscapes of the OACPS member states, including Nigeria. Therefore, while the Samoa Agreement promotes the protection and fulfilment of all human rights, it does not force any particular stance on LGBT rights onto Nigeria or any other signatory.

Diplomatic Relations and Implementation

The implementation of the Samoa Agreement and the diplomatic relations between the EU and non-EU countries, including Nigeria, are managed by the European External Action Service (EEAS), led by High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles. The EEAS plays a crucial role in shaping and executing the EU’s foreign, security, and defence policies, ensuring that international agreements like the Samoa Agreement are effectively upheld and respected.

Conclusion

The Samoa Agreement represents a forward-thinking partnership between the EU and the OACPS, including Nigeria. It underscores a commitment to shared values such as human rights, sustainable development, and global cooperation. While it encourages the protection and promotion of LGBT rights, it does not mandate these values on the Nigerian government, thereby respecting the diverse perspectives and legal frameworks of all signatories. This balance between encouragement and respect for sovereignty is what makes the Samoa Agreement a progressive yet inclusive international accord.

For more detailed information about the Samoa Agreement, interested readers can visit the European Commission and Council websites.