Commonwealth group initiated steps towards reform

The Commonwealth agreed to adopt one third of the 106 recommendations of an eminent persons group to make the grouping more relevant.

Perth: Taking a step-by-step approach to
reforms, the Commonwealth today agreed to adopt one third of
the 106 recommendations of an eminent persons group to make
the grouping more relevant in current times, but virtually
rejected the proposal for a human rights commissioner.

Faced with a tough task of ushering in reforms, leaders of
the 54-nation bloc had asked their foreign ministers to work
overnight on recommedations of the 11-member Eminent Persons
Group (EPG), which had gone public with its criticism.

Both Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and
Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma sought to dub
the three-day summit meeting a success and cited the reform of
the Ministerial Group and strengthening management and
delivery of Commonwealth programmes as cases in point.

On the much-talked about recommendations of the EPG,
chaired by former Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi,
Gillard said that the CHOGM had agreed to a third of their
suggestions, including having a charter of values.

"We have agreed there should be a charter of the
Commonwealth to bring together the Commonwealth values,
principles and aspirations in one clear and powerful
statement," Gillard said.
She said the leaders also decided to adopt without
reservation 30 recommendations of the EPG and another 12
recommendations would be adopted subject to consideration of
financial implications.

While leaders rejected 11 recommendations of the EPG, 43
others, including the proposal for a human rights
commissioner, were sent to a taskforce of ministers for
"detailed advice".

India was represented at the meeting by Vice President
Hamid Ansari.

A section of the delegates who attended the deliberations
ruled out setting up of the commissioner and stressed on the
development initiatives of the Commonwealth.

With many of the Commonwealth nations being low-lying
islands, the CHOGM agreed on a slew of measures to promote
action on climate change, including a push to find better ways
to fund mitigation and adaptation projects.

Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed said a number of the
EPG recommendations touched upon the issue of climate change
and all have been accepted by the Heads.
"The issue of climate change is not of the future. It is
happening now and we must deal with it now," Nasheed, whose
country faces one of the gravest threat from global warming,
said.

He appreciated the Australian initiative to impose carbon
tax as a measure to tackle climate change.

"I think these are the kinds of measures that we would
like to see from the rest of the developed world," he said.

Gillard has promised to take up Commonwealth issues at the
G20 summit in Cannes next week.

The final CHOGM communique noted the "impasse" in the Doha
round and urged the trade ministers` World Trade Organisation
(WTO) meeting in December to commit to make "substantive
progress" as well as make a formal "anti-protectionist
pledge".

The communique also called for "accelerated efforts" to
conclude negotiations on a Comprehensive Convention on
International Terrorism (CCIT).

It endorsed India`s position that seeks a quick conclusion
to the negotiations on the CCIT at the UN.

The leaders also agreed to reduce the cost of remittance
transfers by removing barriers to remitting and encouraging
greater competition in the transfer market, by endorsing the
World Bank`s General Principles for International Remittance
Services.

They also agreed to improving gender equality and
empowerment of women by supporting national programmes to this
effect, including initiatives to eliminate gender-based
violence.

The leaders agreed to intensify efforts to promote women`s
decision-making roles at all levels and continuing to improve
advocacy for women`s leadership and the empowerment of women
as leaders.

The leaders also agreed to combat people smuggling and
human trafficking by clamping down on illicit criminal
organisations and bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to
justice, while protecting and supporting the victims of
trafficking.

PTI

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