Association of West-European Parliamentarians for Action against Apartheid (AWEPAA) Archives

Biographical / Historical Note

AWEPAA, the Association of West European Parliamentarians for Action against Apartheid, was founded in 1984, in the wake of international conferences of parliamentarians on the oil boycott and other sanctions against South Africa in 1981 and 1982. Founding President was Dutch politician Jan Nico Scholten MP; the membership included, by the end of 1986, nearly 1000 (former) parliamentarians from a broad political spectrum in 19 democratic European countries. Beyond Europe, AWEPAA liaised with likeminded politicians in the USA, Canada and other Commonwealth countries. With a secretariat in its headquarters in The Netherlands and, from the early 1990s, small offices in Brussels, South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique, AWEPAA informed its members and lobbied, through its national membership groups and its members in the European Parliament, for economic and other sanctions against apartheid South Africa, support to South African and Namibian liberation movements and other democratic organisations, the independence of South African occupied Namibia and support for the Southern African Front Line States which suffered from South African aggression and destabilisation. AWEPAA organised conferences in the countries holding the rotating presidency of the European Communities and other European capitals. It organised fact finding missions for its members and conferences in Southern African countries including, from 1990, independent Namibia and South Africa itself. Its publications included a bulletin, conference and topical reports on relevant political developments in Europe and Southern Africa. Broadening its outreach, the initiators of AWEPAA in January 1988 founded the African European Institute (AEI) together with representatives of European development and religious organisations, and Southern African political and other public figures. It sought to promote economic development, social justice and peace in all Southern Africa, by contributing to a fuller knowledge and better understanding of the issues confronting the region and strengthening cooperation between Europe and Southern Africa. From the 1990s, its teams participated in international election observation exercises in South Africa, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique. After the democratisation in Central-Eastern Europe and in South Africa, AWEPAA refocused its core activity on partnership with African parliaments to strengthen democracy in Africa, keeping Africa high on the political agenda in Europe, and facilitating African-European parliamentary dialogue on a broad range of policy issues. It renamed itself in 1993, losing one A in writing, into AWEPA: Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa. AWEPA and the AEI merged in 1994. At the end of 2017 AWEPA ceased to exist.

Custodial History

After initial rearrangement and selection of relevant documents in the 1990s the archives were professionally stored outside the AWEPA office, thereby de facto becoming inaccessible to both staff and interested outsiders. For inclusion in the IISH anti-apartheid and Southern Africa collection, the archives were officially deposited in the International Institute of Social History in May 2014.


Peter Sluiter, founding AWEPAA secretary-general 1984-1992, did both the initial rearrangement and selection of the archives and the final processing in accordance with IISH custom in 2014-15. The arrangement of the archives reflect the structure of the organisation as well as its range of activities in the period concerned. Apart from spare copies, most archival and documentation items were preserved, except materials produced by Dutch anti-apartheid organisations and the Shipping Research Bureau, as they are available elsewhere in the IISH collection.

Similarly, Mr. Scholten's national parliamentary archives on Southern Africa in the annex were slightly rearranged and described to match IISH custom.


For the period 1982 – 1994, the AWEPAA/AEI archives include all publications, lobbying initiatives, position papers and action plans, internal and external correspondence with its members, parliaments and governments, Southern African partners, Western and other NGOs, minutes of board and staff meetings, budgets and financial reports. In addition, they include documentation of policies and positions of European and other Western countries and parliaments, the United Nations, the Commonwealth, as well as selected Western NGOs and research institutes. Much of this documentation is kept in files of the AWEPA/AEI conferences, often focussing on one particular aspect in the broader context of political developments in Europe and Southern Africa. Conference reports, issues of the AWEPAA bulletin and other publications are added to the most appropriate topical files. A comprehensive set of AWEPA(A) publications is included in a separate section. A full set of the AWEPA(A) News Bulletin is available in the IISH library - call number IISG ZK 55373.

As an annex, the Southern African policy files of AWEPAA President Jan-Nico Scholten as member of the Dutch Parliament in the 1970s and '80s are added.

A second annex contains 180- photographs by Pieter Boersma of AWEPA(A) conferences, missions, etc. in the years 1989-1998.

The AWEPA archives of the years beyond 1994 are not publicly available.

Processing Information

List made by Peter Sluiter and Kier Schuringa in 2015.