PhD research: From unequal to equal partners: understanding Africa-EU relations through a historical-structural approach to injustice

October 2022 to September 2026
structural injustice
Africa-EU relations
partnership of equals
political theory
development cooperation
Afrobarometer (Ghana)
CODESRIA (Senegal)
Research fields
Law and Political Science

The European Union (EU) has been a leading donor in development assistance to Africa as from the end of World War II. Initially, development cooperation took place as a relationship between a donor and a recipient. After the first Lomé Convention (1975), an apparent shift from the previous configuration to cooperation between equal partners occurred. Since then, the term ‘partnership’ has been a buzzword in development cooperation and it is still used prominently, for instance in the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (2007) and in the recent post-Cotonou agreement (2021). However, despite an increasing emphasis on equality, EU-Africa relations (OACPS and AU) continue displaying structural trajectories of unequal power. This dissertation focuses on how historical-structural factors hinder the creation of partnerships of equals between Africa and the EU. I aim at solving this puzzle through three interrelated research objectives: 1) to understand how AU, OACPS and EU conceptualise these partnerships in light of their historical legacy; 2) to analyse what ‘partnership of equals’ means concretely in Africa-EU relations; 3) to comprehend which historical-structural factors should be considered when designing and negotiating partnerships between AU, OACPS, and the EU. By addressing these questions, I will build a normative-theoretical framework informed by empirical research (QCA and CDA).