Development and Democracy

Development and Democracy

Report of the Commonwealth Secretary-General 2003 You do not have access to this content

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Sep 2003
9781848598348 (PDF)

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This report of the Commonwealth Secretary-General covers the period 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2003. It describes the work of the Commonwealth association of 54 member countries, and more specifically the activities and achievements of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the association's principal intergovernmental organisation. The Foreword by Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon presents a personal view of the progress of the Commonwealth over that period. The report is presented to Commonwealth Heads of Government before their biennial summit.

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  • Foreword

    Increasing terrorism, armed conflicts, hunger, poverty and disease – these have regrettably already become some of the hallmarks of the first three years of a millennium that started with so much hope and optimism.

  • Executive summary

    This Report of the Commonwealth Secretary–General covers the period 1 july 2001 to 30 june 2003. It describes the work of the Commonwealth association of 54 member countries, and more specifically the activities and achievements of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the association's principal intergovernmental organisation.

  • Democracy: a cornerstone of the Commonwealth

    Democracy, representative government, human rights, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and just and honest government are at the heart of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values, articulated in the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration. The Commonwealth Secretariat promotes democracy through advocacy of democratic principles and practical action to help make them a reality.

  • Promoting peace, preventing conflict

    Assistance to member states with adhering to the Harare Commonwealth Declaration is a key component of the Commonwealth Secretariat's work to promote just and stable government and to prevent internal conflicts. The ‘good offices’ role of the Secretary-General is the Commonwealth's primary mechanism for addressing political problems and conflicts where they do arise.

  • Strengthening the rule of law

    A robust legal system is critical to development and essential for democracy. It underpins economic growth and is a vital component of work in myriad areas, from conflict resolution to encouraging trade, investment and poverty reduction.

  • Advancing human rights

    Human rights have long been at the centre of the Commonwealth's values and its practical interventions, and the Commonwealth Secretariat's work in the field has achieved growing prominence in recent years. The importance attached to human rights specifically is reflected in the enhanced autonomy of the Human Rights Unit since its reconstitution in January 2002.

  • Towards a fairer global trading system

    Globalisation poses daunting challenges for many Commonwealth countries, particularly small states and least developed countries (LDCs). Many suffer limited access to international markets and have ‘endowed handicaps’ that increase transaction costs and affect competitiveness. The Commonwealth is helping these states to meet such challenges.

  • Investing in development

    For Commonwealth countries that lack capacity to produce internationally competitive goods and services or whose capacity to do so is not recognised, the fruits of globalisation stay tantalisingly out of reach. Investment, both domestic and foreign, is what they need, but that is easier said than done. The Commonwealth seeks to promote such investment, as well as debt relief.

  • Speaking up for small states

    Small states are a big story for the Commonwealth, and are integral to the association's identity as a proudly diverse group of nations. More than half the Commonwealth's membership-32 of 54 member countries-are small states, mostly with populations of less than 1.5 million.

  • Promoting economic growth and poverty reduction

    Globalisation can be a powerful force for greater economic growth, poverty reduction and sustainable development in line with the Millennium Development Goals. The Commonwealth Secretariat's technical assistance programmes help to equip developing member countries with the capacity needed to harness the forces of globalisation, while meeting its corollary challenges.

  • Supporting public sector reform

    Efficient public services are essential for good governance and development, and the Commonwealth Secretariat provides a range of targeted technical assistance services to support member countries' efforts to reform their public sectors. These technical assistance services offer a combination of continuity and change: they respond to the short-term needs of Commonwealth countries, and sustain the longer term restructuring of their public sectors.

  • Providing expertise and training

    The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (CFTC) plays an important role in building the capacity and skills of member countries to advance their sustainable development. In this way the CFTC seeks to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals including the reduction by onehalf of the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.

  • Gender into the mainstream

    The Commonwealth Secretariat's gender programme supports the empowerment of women in the Commonwealth by helping to eliminate discrimination, promoting equal opportunities for women and men, and recognising that gender equality is essential to poverty eradication and sustainable development.

  • Young people: partners in progress

    More than half of the Commonwealth's citizens are under 30 years old. Investing in these young people will be decisive in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In their 2002 Coolum Declaration, Commonwealth Heads of Government made clear their determination to "address poverty reduction by tapping the skills, knowledge and energy of a highly motivated younger generation."

  • Human development: health and education

    In 2002, the Commonwealth Secretariat's Education and Health Sections merged with the Gender Affairs Division to become the Social Transformation Programmes Division. This has helped the Secretariat to refocus its human development programmes on the Millennium Development Goals, as mandated by the 2002 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

  • Ensuring integrated sustainable development

    The twin goals of sustainable development and poverty alleviation stand at the heart of the Commonwealth Secretariat's work and the fundamental principles that all members of the Commonwealth hold in common. These goals are best achieved not through a variety of discrete actions in diverse sectors, but rather by finding integrated approaches that produce multiple impacts and benefits across all three pillars of sustainable development- social, economic and environmental.

  • Science and technology for development

    The Commonwealth's work in science and technology has focused on a range of initiatives to support sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

  • Raising the Commonwealth's profile

    Advancing the Commonwealth's fundamental values and maintaining and enhancing the association's public profile are key areas of responsibility for the Commonwealth Secretariat. These objectives are realised through a range of approaches, in partnership with member governments, the media, non-governmental organisations and other groups.

  • A changing organisation

    No organisation can hope to keep up with the fast pace of change of the world today without enthusiastically embracing change within itself. As mandated by CHOGM 2002, on the basis of the recommendations of the High Level Review Group, the Commonwealth Secretariat has implemented a series of governance, structural and organisational changes over the past two years.

  • Appendices and Abbreviations
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