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|Nobel trio’s ‘democracy’plea to Commonwealth|
|Friday, 28 September 2012 20:41|
A TRIO of eminent Nobel Prize winners has issued a joint statement warning governments and parliaments of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations against endorsing a ‘Commonwealth Charter on Democracy’, unless it is “credible and authoritative”.
The plea from the internationally-renowned Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and fellow Nobel Laureates Nadine Gordimer (South African writer) and the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, came on the eve of a scheduled meeting today at United Nations headquarters in New York of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers, including those of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
High on the Foreign Ministers’ agenda is consideration of a report with wide-ranging recommendations on advancement and preservation of fundamental human rights and democracy, as originally submitted by an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) and subsequently assessed and circulated with changes by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).
The Commonwealth Summit in Perth, Australia, in November last year, had accepted 90 of the 106 recommendations of the EPG.
However, the summit declined to make the report a public document and also withheld approval of some major proposals, among them one that called for the appointment of a ‘Commissioner for Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights”.
The recommendation suggested that the Commissioner be tasked with specific responsibility to monitor and report to the Commonwealth Secretary General on violations, including those by governments, and have such breaches drawn to the attention of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.
In their joint statement, released as foreign ministers were arriving for their meeting in New York, Nobel Laureates Gordimer, Tutu and Soyinka, made their appeal to those “responsible, not to sign any Charter which fails to include credible, authoritative mechanisms to verify serious breaches of the principles in support of democracy, the rule of law and human rights…”
Two CARICOM nationals, Pat Francis, Head of Jamaica’s International Trade Commission, and Sir Ronald Sanders from Guyana, were among members of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group that spent a year gathering information and assessing situations for their comprehensive report.
Currently, two CARCOM Foreign Ministers, Trinidad and Tobago’s Winston Dookeran, and Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister A. J. Nicholson are on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).
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