Commonwealth Human Rights

October 28, 2011 by staff 

Commonwealth Human Rights, Commonwealth leaders face internal divisions, and to contemplate whether to accept the proposals on how to better control – and control – violations of democratic principles and human rights among the Member States.

The leaders of the association of 54 nations, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, received two reports in Friday’s opening day of their biennial meeting.

A report by a group of foreign ministers known as the Ministerial Action Group of the Commonwealth, has gained wide acceptance from the leaders of the Commonwealth.

But the other report, by a group of “eminent persons”, including Canadian Senator Hugh Segal has divided the leaders of the Commonwealth, who will discuss their proposals Saturday.

The advisory group has made 106 recommendations, including creation of a charter of the Community and the appointment of a commissioner to democracy, the rule of law and human rights to monitor whether member states are constantly violating the rights people. The commissioner also recommend “corrective measures”.

While countries like Canada and Britain are strong supporters of the report, other members of the association – which spans the regions like the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia – are opposed to some of its main recommendations.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters at the end of the sessions on Friday that he believes the report’s recommendations are “necessary for the modernization of the Commonwealth.”

He said the leaders hope to move forward in its deliberations, but said: “I think it’s a step-by step.”

Canadian officials have expressed optimism that at least in other countries adopting the report of the ministerial action group, which offers specific recommendations on how the community can deal with “serious and persistent” violations of the fundamental principles of the association.

The report recommends that Commonwealth leaders in the future, the task force must “act as custodian of political values,” the association identified in the Harare Declaration, a document published at a summit in 1991.

The document 20 years of age commits the nations of the Commonwealth to comply with a set of principles such as the rule of international law, equal rights for all citizens regardless of their belief of sex, race, color, creed or politics, law, political activity, opposition to all forms of racial oppression. “human dignity and equality” and a commitment to

Queen Elizabeth opened the meeting of Commonwealth leaders on Friday with a brief speech in which he said that the summit promises to bring “new vitality to the Commonwealth.”

He thanked the members of the group of eminent persons, adding that he looks forward to the outcome of the discussions of the leaders in their recommendations.

“And I would like the heads of government and to accept (a) further reforms to respond boldly to the aspirations of today and keep the community fresh and fit for tomorrow.”

At its last meeting in 2009, Commonwealth leaders appointed 11-member group of eminent persons to advise on the modernization of the association.

But it is clear that some countries – Sri Lanka is believed and some African countries are among those now in opposition – not like the results.

The Eminent Persons Group, says the community has a “proud record” in the past to respond to serious violations of human rights by member countries – including apartheid in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, the “excesses” of the dictatorship of Idi Amin in Uganda, and military coups in Nigeria, Fiji, Sierra Leone and Pakistan.

In each case, the Community takes action, through actions ranging from the condemnation of sanctions such as suspension of the organization.

However, the figures concluded that there has been increasing criticism in recent years that the Commonwealth does not take a position, at least publicly, about violations of its securities by its Member States, except in the case of the unconstitutional dismissal of the governments.

“This failure of the Community is seen as a corruption that has been in the body of the organization and once the irrelevance of the association – if not its actual disappearance -. Unless quickly treated”

At a meeting on Friday, the Canadian representative of the group – Segal – defended the report in a meeting with journalists.

Segal said there was no opposition from some countries, which fear that their sovereign rights could be infringed if the Community intends to dictate how they comply with the principles of human rights.

But he stood by his recommendations.

“We must have a full time capacity to participate when the countries are in constant violation of basic human rights and democratic principles,” he said.

“We need an organization that, if you will be based on values, it is actually capable of defending the values ??and work with countries that emerge from the straight and narrow.”

Segal said that the Community is at a crossroads.

“The organization or be seen as a modern instrument for cooperation between sovereign states, common values, or be seen as a relic of history with no role to play in the future.”

Segal said he expects all leaders to support the recommendations in the report, or the Community to “change overnight because of a meeting.”

“But if you see the issue aside, if you see that are fundamental basic assumptions thrown into what we call” grass “- see endless and unsuccessful – to be a sign that many leaders are not really prepared to step up to the plate. I hope that does not happen, but that is one of the risks. ”

The report of the Ministerial Action Group of the Commonwealth, a panel of nine foreign ministers, is designed to “reinforce” its role in the future and make it more effective.

In it, the task force noted that “the widely held view that in the past had been too reactive and not proactive enough to deal with serious and persistent violations of the fundamental values ??of the Commonwealth.”

He concluded that in the future, the task force “has to strike a balance between his role as a body that can recommend and implement penalties for fatal exceptions that can occur and play a supportive and constructive to prevent such exceptions occur in the first place. ”

The report describes the activities of the Community can take on two stages – the unconstitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government, and “serious and persistent violations of Commonwealth fundamental political values” that do not involve removal of a government unconstitutional.

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