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close this bookThe Courier N 159 - Sept - Oct 1996 - Dossier: Investing in People - Country Reports: Mali ; Western Samoa (EC Courier, 1996, 96 p.)
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View the documentIn brief
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In brief

Trafficking of women

European Commissioner for immigration policy and legal affairs, Anita Gradin, will set to work with fellow Commissioners over the coming months to draw up a European Union action programme to clamp down on the trafficking of women which she describes as, 'the modern slave trade'. This comes hot on the heels of the Vienna European conference on trafficking of women, held on June 10 and 11, which was co-hosted by the European Commission, the Austrian government and the International Organisation for Migration.

Ms Gradin told journalists on June 12: 'I will put forward to the Council and the European Parliament a communication on the trafficking in women for sexual exploitation. This will cover migration policy, police and judicial cooperation, and social aspects to support and protect the victims. It will also consider European relations with the source countries, where the women are recruited.'

The Vienna conference highlighted the need for cooperation between Member States and third countrie from which women are lured into prostitution in Western Europe. Recommendations, which are expected to be part of the EU policy, include setting up central national units in each Member State to exchange information.

The Commissioner told the participants in Vienna: 'The slave trade in women is growing, a slave-trade that aims at sexual exploitation. No part of the world seems to be free from this degrading treatment of women. Women are bought and sold like cattle or commodities. They are deprived of their rights and their dignity. And the direction of the trade is the same all over-it is women from poor conditions that are forced into a deplorable life by men in richer countries.'

She cited a typical case of one woman from the Dominican Republic from the book 'Stolen Lives' by Sietske Altinks: 'One day I went to visit a friend who was going to discuss job opportunities in Europe. I went with her and met a schoolteacher who knew somebody called Juan who could get me a job in the Netherlands. When I went to see him, his associates told me that I would easily find employment in a beauty parlour.' She ended up in prostitution.

Ms Gradin continued: 'The consequences for the women are dreadful. Often, they find themselves deprived of their freedom to move and decide for themselves; they are often locked up and subjected to violence and sexual exploitation. And should they be able to free themselves, they are regarded as illegal residents and expelled.'

Debra Percival

Aid for development in the field of communication

A seminar was held under the auspices of the United Nations in the Belgian Parliament on 6 and 7 June, on 'the future of international development cooperation: new challenges for communication'.

The European Union was represented at the event, among others, by Colette Flesch and Steffen Smidt, the directors general respectively of DG X and DG VlII of the Commission. Mrs Flesch gave a presentation at the opening session in which she highlighted the various communication approaches adopted by the European Community in its efforts to counter what appears to be a growing lack of interest in development aid on the continent.

Mr Smidt, who spoke in the second session of the seminar, began his presentation with an anecdote, citing a text displayed at the entrance to a Federal building in Washington. This states: 'Taxes are what we pay to have a civilised society'. Paraphrasing this sentiment, the Director-General argued that, 'development assistance is what we pay to have a civilised European Union.' The question, he went on to pose, was whether we were paying enough?

A number of the participants painted a discouraging picture of the situation facing the world's poorest countries in a world of advanced communications and increasing globalisation. Almost all were pessimistic about the impact of the socalled 'information super highways' on the least-developed nations.

One of the most striking interventions came from Mabbub Ul Haq, the former Finance Minister of Pakistan, who spoke just after Mr Smidt in the plenary meeting, as well as at one of the discussion workshops. Mr Ul Haq urged the creation of a UN Economic Security Council, arguing that the main risk of global conflagration lies in the disparity that exists between rich and poor, now that the dangers associated with the Cold War have receded. One of the most acute issues under discussion was the growing challenge to the received wisdom that technical assistance is essential for consolidating national capacities. The evidence of 40 years of technical assistance would suggest otherwise (with 95% of funds set aside for this purpose going to foreign experts). Indeed, it was argued that those countries receiving most technical assistance per capita, had 'benefited' least from the system.

In his second contribution, Mr Ul Haq painted a somewhat more encouraging picture, pointing out that the shaky 0.3% share of GNP allocated to development aid by the industrialised countries had achieved miracles in terms of increased life expectancy (up by 17 years) and the doubling of school enrolments in the countries of the South.

Hegel Goutier

Round one of the South Africa-EU talks

South Africa gave no immediate response to the European Union's proposals for a bilateral trade agreement at the first round of high level negotiations in Brussels on June 20. The talks were headed by Dr L. T Links who is South Africa's new Ambassador in Brussels and for the KU, by the Director General for Development, Steffen Smidt.

The most difficult subject to negotiate will be future terms of access for South Africa's farm produce. The European mandate, which was agreed by EU Member States on March 25, foresees the exclusion of 39% of South Africa's farm produce currently sold to the EU from the planned free trade area. Applying World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, the EU wants a scaled dismantling of barriers to trade in both farm and manufactured goods over a 10-year period, with a maximum of 12 years for a few highly sensitive items. But the EU has agreed to 'asymmetry' whereby, in some areas, it will open up its market to South Africa at a faster pace than vice versa.

Abdul Minty, deputy Director General at the Foreign Affairs Department in Pretoria, who is one of ,the chief negotiators, explained that South Africa had not yet responded to the terms because it is still consulting internally with the National Economic Development and Labour Council and with its partners of the Southern African Customs Union (Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho).

During a recent visit to Brussels, South Africa's former agriculture minister, Dr Kraai van Niekerk and his deputy, Mrs Thoko Didiza, told reporters that as it stood, the EU's mandate was 'anti-developmental'. Dr van Niekerk said he would like to see citrus fruit, in particular, removed from the list of exclusions. He also sought to dispel the fears of some EU Member States who wish to omit a larger proportion of South Africa's farm produce from the FTA, for fear of competition with equivalent EU produce.

Dr van Niekerk stressed the 'complementary' nature of South Africa's farm production. He pointed out that his country's growing season was at the opposite time of year to that of the EU and noted that South Africa's output of farm produce could only increase by about 2%.

EU spokesman, Joao Vale de Almeida, said that progress had been made during the Brussels talks on aspects of South Africa's 'tome protocol'. This is aimed at giving South Africa certain benefits from the Lomonvention- some eligibility for South African companies to tender for Lomontracts and the partial extension of the Lomules of origin to South African exports. It was originally planned that the Lomrotocol should be implemented at the same time as a bilateral trade accord, (on January 1 1997). Mr Vale de Almeida spelt out that although it would not be technically and legally impossible for the Lomrotocol to come on stream without the bilateral pact, it would be more practical if the two could be implemented at the same time. A second round of talks is expected to take place in the autumn.


Echo Media Awards

On 29 June, the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) launched a Television and Radio awards scheme to reward high-quality coverage of humanitarian affairs. Prizes will go to programmes produced or co-produced by independent production companies and/or broadcasting stations in the 15 EU countries which have been transmitted in a Member State on terrestrial or satellite television or radio between January 1 1995 and September 1 1996.

Judging by a panel made up of NGOs, environmentalists, politicians and the media will be in six categories:

People on the move-a television documentary on the humanitarian consequences of sudden or forced population movements;

In the minds of the people-a TV documentary on the psychological trauma in crisis situations;

Forgotten conflicts-TV coverage of a long-running crisis forgotten by the mainstream;

Vulnerable groups-TV coverage of the hazards encountered by women, children and the elderly in rebuilding their lives;

Broadcast commitment-to a radio or TV station for consistent, high-quality coverage of humanitarian issues;

Radio award-for the most incisive and analytical coverage of an emergency or humanitarian crisis.

Announcing the scheme, EC Commissioner, Emma Bonino, said: 'These awards give us an opportunity to acknowledge the vital role that broadcasters play in raising awareness of the issues at stake in imaginative, accurate and moving ways. They also serve to remind us of some of the basic European values such as solidarity and humanitarianism that have sometimes been eclipsed by barrages of headlines about mad cows and fish wars.'

Entries for this inaugural year must be submitted by September 19, 1996. Details can be obtained from: Mandy Duncan-Smith, Media Natura (UK), tel: (44 171) 240 4936 fax: (44171) 240 2291 E-mail:

Posters featuring contemporary Bantu art

In the framework of its cooperation programme with the Commission, CICIBA (Centre international des civilisations bantu-B.P. 770-Libreville- Gabon) has recently launched a series of large format reproductions featuring contemporary Bantu art. Thirteen works have been chosen, displaying a representative selection of art forms-painting, sculpture, engraving and moulded leather. The posters, more than 5000 of which have been printed in quadrichromic colour, have a 40 x 60 format. They are also available as postcards.

The artists featured are Marcela Costa (Angola), Assouambo (Cameroon), Daikou (Central African Republic), Mouanga Nkodia (Congo), Abdou Moeou (Comoros), Pambou Boulaz (Gabon), Jose Menan (Equatorial Guinea), Protais Hakizimfura (Rwanda), Protasio Pina (Sao Tome & Principe), Silu Kinanga and Munyenz Tshibangu (Zaire) and Mulenga Chafilwa (Zambia).

CICIBA has also put together a similar series on ancient Bantu art. The fourth bi-annual exhibition of contemporary Bantu art, which has received some support from the European Commission, was due to be staged in Luanda (Angola) during July and August.

Links between technology and society

For more than 50 years, technological innovation has been regarded by many writers in the field as the motor of economic development.

Today, with rapid developments in the media sector and the emergence of 'information super-highways', the whole world is talking about the emergence of a new society dominated by 'smart' technology linked with research and creativity. This trend gives rise to many questions. Will the information be made available to all, and if so, when? Will it lead to a change in North-South relations? Can we imagine what a world of 'tale-working', 'tale-education' and video on demand will be like? What will the cost of all this be? Will biotechnology rescue the world or be the cause of its downfall? What will the consequences be for the environment? And in a globalised world, what standards and norms will be used?

In short, what is the real nature of the relationship between technology and society; between science and humankind?

Fifteen universities of the EEA (European Economic Area) from Oslo to the Basque country and from London to Athens (taking in Roskilde, Maastricht, Louvainla-Neuve, Namur, Strasbourg, Lausanne, Sienna, Bari, Madrid, Valencia and Lisbon), have come together to offer a multidisciplinary course focusing on these key questions. During the first term, classes in theory and seminars are offered (in the local language of the institution) by experts from the academic world and the public and private sectors. Visits are also planned to multinational companies and laboratories. For the second half of the course, the students gain a wider European dimension by 'changing' university (with grants from the Socrates programme). The bulk of their time at this stage will be spent preparing a research dissertation in English on a topic which fits in with the specialisation of the host institution.

For further information on the ESST
programme, contact:
Prof. E Lints (UCL-Belgium)
Tel. (32) 01047.82.60
Prof. T. Nguyen (FUNDP-Belgium)
Tel. (32) 081-72.49.09