Archive for category Commonwealth

At the Commonwealth summit, the human rights proselytisers no longer hold sway

by John Kampfner
30 October 2011

The Perth summit reveals how compromised western leaders are in their efforts to promote human rights

The death knell of the Commonwealth has been sounded for as long as there have been summits. By accident rather than design, this anachronistic gathering of 54 states may actually say more about the state of global priorities than the participants realise. And the direction of travel is grim.

At their meeting in Perth over the weekend, the leaders rejected many of the recommendations of a report by a team of the great and good, the eminent persons group (EPG), designed to move the Commonwealth’s democratic laggards towards basic norms.

In search of a lowest-common-denominator consensus, the summit accepted some less controversial ideas, such as a charter. The idea of a human rights commissioner, however, proved too much. “There have been a few blips like in any part of the world but I don’t think it demanded a commissioner,” noted Suruj Rambachan, the foreign minister of Trinidad. Under pressure from South Africa and other states, the summit even refused to publish the EPG’s report.

The former prime minister of Malaysia, who chaired the EPG, said the summit would be remembered as a failure. Malcolm Rifkind, the former UK foreign secretary, described the unwillingness to publish the report as a disgrace. This is hardly surprising, as the Commonwealth comprises a veritable who’s who of governments with dubious human rights records – from Nigeria, Cameroon and Rwanda to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Singapore. Read the rest of this entry »


Commonwealth leaders refuse to publish key report’s findings

By Mark Kennedy, Postmedia News
Vancouver Sun

PERTH, Australia – Commonwealth leaders have ignored warnings that their decaying association will die without urgent reforms and have failed to reach significant agreement on how to ensure its member nations abide by human rights principles and the rule of law.

The development came Saturday, as the leaders spent the second day of their biennial gathering – known as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) – debating the merits of a report delivered by an advisory group established two years ago.

But instead of endorsing the report, the leaders adopted a distrustful view about its contents – even deciding that it should be kept secret and not be published.

The report by a panel of “eminent persons” which includes Canadian senator Hugh Segal called for major reforms to ensure the Commonwealth – which is quickly losing its international credibility – becomes relevant and avoids a slow slide to death. Read the rest of this entry »


Mahathir has won the shadow power battle of three Prime Ministers on the sidelines of Perth 2011 CHOGM

The fourth Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir seems to have won the shadow power battle with the fifth Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the sixth Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razaki on the sidelines of the Perth 2011 CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) 2011 on the Eminent Person Group’s (EPG) proposal for a Commonwealth Commissioner for Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights.

The latest news from the Perth 2011 CHOGM is that the Commonwealth heads of government have not only rejected the EPG’s proposal for a Commonwealth Commissioner for Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights, they have taken the shocking decision not to publish the EPF report on Commonwealth reforms to make it relevant and not an anachronism.

This has led to the unprecedented unanimous criticism by the seven-member EPG in Perth against the CHOGM decision.

It is good to see Abdullah, who is chairperson of the seven-member EPG, leading the EPG attack against CHOGM and issuing the warning: Read the rest of this entry »


Commonwealth leaders refuse to publish EPG report

by Matthew Franklin,
chief political correspondent,
The Australian
October 29, 2011

MEMBERS of an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) advising the Commonwealth have attacked the 54-nation body for refusing to publish its report recommending ways to make the organisation more relevant.

UK representative Sir Malcolm Rifkind today said it was a “a disgrace” the report had not been released to promote debate about Commonwealth reform, while Canada’s Hugh Segal said it was apparent some nations believed silence was the best option in dealing with serious issues like human rights violations among the group’s members.

Today’s unanimous criticism by the seven-member EPG has turned the three-day CHOGM meeting on its head after Commonwealth leaders last night declared they had acted to secure the Commonwealth’s ongoing relevance.

At yesterday’s session, leaders lifted the powers of the Commonwealth ministerial action group, made up of foreign ministers of member nations, to intervene when member nations were slipping away from the observance of basic democratic principles. Read the rest of this entry »


The Commonwealth: Will wise heads prevail?

By Sir Ronald Sanders
Huntington News
October 27, 2011

A visitor to Perth in Australia during the week ending 30th October would be forgiven in believing that the City revolves around the 54-nation Commonwealth.

The entire city is festooned with banners highlighting “CHOGM 2011” as Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers and hundreds of representatives from every Commonwealth country have gathered here for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) with several important side events.

Among the side events are a Commonwealth Business Forum which, on this occasion brought together businesspeople from many Commonwealth countries, and a People’s Forum – a meeting of many of the 90 civil society organisations that exist under the Commonwealth banner.

Perth has certainly been a great host and its people have reacted well to the disruption of their lives with closed-off streets, restricted areas and armed police along the main routes from hotels to the impressive Perth Convention Centre where the CHOGM is taking place, and for which Queen Elizabeth II came as Head of the Commonwealth.

Pedestrians are pleased to be helpful to Commonwealth delegates seeking direction on the streets, and vehicular traffic – even buses – have been ready to stop to allow visiting Commonwealth pedestrians to take precedence on the streets.

While there is no doubt that Perth has successfully hosted the Commonwealth meeting and all the activities associated with it, judgement of the success of the actual Heads of Government Conference will have to await the end of what Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said he believed would be a ‘landmark event’ that would raise the bar for future such gatherings. Read the rest of this entry »