Evian Accords (1962)
EVIAN ACCORDS (1962)
March 1962 agreements between the French government and the Gouvernement Provisoire de la République Algérienne.
The Evian Accords—reached between the French government and the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale's (FLN) Gouvernement Provisoire de la République Algérienne (GPRA)—were very difficult to conclude. Their negotiation took place in a climate roiling with rebellion and revolution. Belkacem Krim presided over the Algerian delegation, ably assisted by Saad Dahlab. Louis Joxe headed the French team.
Negotiations began in May 1961 in Evian, France, one month after President Charles de Gaulle suppressed a military rebellion by recalcitrant generals who opposed Algerian decolonization. The talks soon broke down over the future status of the Sahara (with Joxe suggesting the possibility of its partition) and the option of double citizenship in a future Algerian state for the piedsnoirs, or European settlers. Secret discussions in late 1961 resulted in a resumption of full negotiations in February 1962 at Les Rousses, a hideaway in the Jura Mountains. By that time, the Organisation de l'Armée Secrète (OAS) was wreaking havoc in an increasingly anarchic, uncontrollable Algeria. Furthermore, ideological fissures in the FLN widened. There were intense pressures on both sides to arrive at a settlement. De Gaulle had already ruled out partitioning the Sahara. The FLN, in turn, allowed France to preserve its petroleum and natural gas concessions and its military and nuclear testing bases. The pieds-noirs also received numerous guarantees on the assumption that most of them would remain in Algeria. After settling these arduous issues, negotiations adjourned briefly. Krim and Dahlab successfully defended their actions and compromises before the GPRA and the increasingly hostile general staff of the Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN). The negotiators returned to Evian to complete the accords, which were signed on 19 March 1962.
A joint cease-fire introduced the accords. This was followed by five "chapters." Chapter I addressed the formation of an interim, provisional government whose chief task was to prepare a self-determination referendum. Chapter II stipulated the pieds-noirs' future role in independent Algeria, and it framed the future French-Algerian relationship of "cooperation." Chapter III considered "military questions." Chapter IV stated that disputes would be negotiated with "recourse" to the international court of justice. Chapter V asserted that if self-determination (i.e., Algerian independence with cooperation) was affirmed by the referendum, France pledged to recognize immediately the new nation. The meticulous guarantees to protect the settler minority ensued, followed by detailed "declarations of principles" particularly regarding post-colonial cooperation.
Given the neocolonial implications of the accords, alienated FLN members and the general staff officers condemned the loss of sovereignty symbolized by the perpetuated French economic and military presence. The Tripoli Program of June 1962 displayed the nationalists' discontent. Differences over the accords contributed to an intra-FLN fratricide in the summer of 1962 that overthrew the GPRA. Succeeding Algerian governments subsequently aimed to revise the accords and pursue "postcolonial decolonization" in moves such as the nationalization of French Saharan concessions in February 1971. In addition, changing historical realities vitiated the guarantees meant to secure the pieds-noirs. The violent nihilism of the OAS and the general insecurity forced hundreds of thousands of settlers—almost the entire community—to flee Algeria for France, thereby making the protective stipulations anachronistic. Despite their controversial shortcomings, the accords liberated Algeria and freed France from a destructive colonial relationship.
See also Front de LibÉration Nationale (FLN); Krim, Belkacem; Organisation ArmÉe SecrÈte (OAS).
Ambassade de France, Service de Presse et d'Information. Texts of Declarations Drawn up in Common Agreement at Evian, March 18, 1962 by the Delegations of the Government of the French Republic and the Algerian National Liberation Front. New York: Ambassade de France, Service de Presse et d'Information, 1962.
Naylor, Phillip C. France and Algeria: A History of Decolonization and Transformation. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2000.
phillip c. naylor
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