Report of the Commonwealth Secretary-General 1995

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Jan 1995
9781848595538 (PDF)

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This report covers the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat from July 1993 to June 1995. It was presented to Commonwealth member countries at the 1995 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which was held in Auckland, New Zealand. The theme for the 1995 CHOGM was 'Development and Good Governance: Local Action, Global Reach'.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Promoting Good Governance

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    • Advancing Fundamental Values

      The collective commitment of the Commonwealth to the promotion of fundamental values has further deepened since the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Limassol, Cyprus, in 1993. Midway through the last decade of the 20th century, member countries are placing more emphasis than ever before on the value of democracy and democratic processes, the promotion of sustainable development and the alleviation of poverty, fundamental human rights in all their aspects, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, and just and honest government. These are the pillars of good governance.

    • The Commonwealth and Democracy

      The most visible face of the Commonwealth's commitment to its fundamental political values has been the transition, through free elections, of military regimes and one-party states to democratic, civilian, multi-party systems of government.

    • The Right to Human Dignity

      The Commonwealth believes that every person has a right to human dignity. This includes all aspects of human rights, fundamental freedoms, as well as the right to development and women's rights. Indeed, respect for these rights is recognised as an essential ingredient of the association's fundamental values.

    • Discreet Diplomacy and Consensus-Building

      The Commonwealth 'family' takes advantage wherever possible of the closeness and familiarity built up by the special ties that bind members to seek solutions to internal, bilateral or regional problems, or come to consensus on wide-ranging matters.

    • The Rule of Law

      Taking the Harare Commonwealth Declaration of 1991 as its reference point, the Secretariat, with the active support of member governments, Law Ministers, Attorneys-General and Chief Justices, has sought with renewed vigour to promote the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and just and honest government. These are best assured by processes of government which are open and accountable-from electoral systems to individual government decision-making. Such transparency affords people protection against the possible abuse of public office.

    • South Africa: A Celebration of Freedom

      The two years since the 1993 CHOGM in Cyprus have seen momentous change in Southern Africa. South Africa's transformation into a non-racial democracy has important implications for Africa as a whole, and particularly for Southern Africa, where a peaceful solution has been found for Mozambique's long civil war and peace in Angola at last seems a real prospect. The countries in this region, the majority of which are Commonwealth members, are in the process of forging a regional community based on the twin pillars of democracy and development.

    • A Region Under Reconstruction

      Southern Africa is poised to chart a new course in regional co-operation. With peace in Angola and Mozambique, and the end of apartheid in South Africa - all of which have profound implications not just for each country but also for regional neighbours - a window of opportunity has opened. South Africa, which in the years of apartheid destabilised its neighbours, is now joining with its Southern African Development Community (SADC) partners in promoting regional integration, development and democracy.

    • Gender Integration: Towards True Equality

      Although some progress has been made towards achieving gender equality, the reality for most women still falls considerably short of the vision expressed by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 1993 of 'a world in which women enjoyed their full rights and were equal partners in shaping the economic, political and social development of their countries'.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Economic Growth and Sustainable Development

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    • Managing Economic Change

      Of the 51 Commonwealth members, 47 are developing countries, for the most part engaged in finding ways of developing their economies and reducing poverty. For them, progress in social and economic development is indispensable for the stability of their political institutions and continued adherence to the Commonwealth's fundamental values.

    • Mobilising the Private Sector for Development

      With official development assistance stagnating in recent years and in line with the desire to achieve sound economic management based on market forces, Commonwealth governments have increasingly sought to promote the private sector and to attract private capital for development. Although there has been a surge in private flows to developing countries, these have been concentrated in a relatively few countries. The Secretariat has therefore also sought to help member countries to evolve new ways of attracting foreign investment.

    • Paths Out of Poverty

      Commonwealth concern over global poverty is rooted in its recognition that about 1.3 billion people in developing countries are poor and that half of them live in seven Commonwealth countries alone. Eighteen of the Commonwealth's countries are classed by the World Bank as being low income (with a GNP per capita of under US$700) and a further 10 as being middle income (US$700 to $2,500). Fifty per cent of the world's poor children live in three Commonwealth countries.

    • Promoting the Special Interests of Small States

      Small states, which make up more than half the Commonwealth's members, have special characteristics which give rise to particular developmental and security problems. Generally, these states are geographically small, often comprising a single island or group of islands, with populations of less than a million and sometimes as small as 8,000, as in the case of Nauru. Their resources can be meagre, their economies fragile, and their security vulnerable to outside forces.

    • Environmentally Sustainable Development

      Care for the environment and promoting sustainable development are reflected in virtually all Secretariat activities whose objectives are to accelerate the economic growth of member states and improve the welfare of their peoples.

    • Development Co-Operation: Backbone of Assistance

      Practical assistance is one of the primary means by which the Commonwealth helps member countries advance their economic and social well-being. This assistance is provided by the Secretariat through the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC).

    • Industrial Key to Growth

      One of the factors behind the recent remarkable economic successes of Commonwealth countries such as Malaysia and Singapore has been the growth of their industrial and manufacturing sectors. This has brought with it new technological sophistication and higher living standards which have, in turn, further fuelled economic growth.

    • Exports in the New Trading Order

      The past few years have seen a fundamental change in the global trading environment that has had far-reaching effects on developing countries. This change has been driven by a new awareness of the benefits of free trade and open competition, as well as the almost universal liberalisation of the economies of the developing countries.

    • Exploiting Natural Resources

      Governments have targeted the exploitation of natural resources, such as minerals and petroleum, in their efforts to attract foreign investment and realise the potential of their hidden wealth. Secretariat assistance to these efforts has focused on advising these governments, on request, on appropriate legal, economic and fiscal terms for the exploitation of mineral resources, and on promotional efforts targeting international companies for investment. It has also helped countries settle maritime boundary questions and develop legal and regulatory frameworks in the fisheries sector.

    • Public Sector and Civil Service Reform

      The past decade has seen an unparalleled debate on the size and role of the public sector. This debate has been fuelled by a growing public demand for more efficient government, changing views on the relationship between the citizen and government, and increased pressure on budgets. At its core are growing doubts about the ability of the public sector to drive development by big spending and large-scale projects and recognition that the private sector must have a greater role to play in development.

    • Science and Development

      Appropriate application of science and technology is important for economic and social development as well as for the preservation of the environment. In order to help member countries face this particular challenge, the Secretariat, through the activities of the Commonwealth Science Council (CSC), has focused on three main areas of activity, biological diversity and genetic resources, water and mineral resources, and energy, which are crucial for sustainable development.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Human Resource Development

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    • Developing People

      People are the Commonwealth's greatest asset and developing their skills and improving their welfare is crucial for economic growth and sustainable development. In the past two years, Commonwealth strategy in the area of human resource development has centred on the report, Foundation for the Future, which was prepared for the Cyprus CHOGM by a Commonwealth Working Group in 1993.

    • A Foundation Built on Education

      Education is one of the main foundations for successful and sustainable development. The Commonwealth has a long tradition of recognising its worth, and the need to broaden access to education and to support the improvement of education management and structures. As part of wider strategies to improve human resource development, Secretariat activities in this area have concentrated on improving both access to and quality of basic education, enhancing the quality of higher education and raising the quality of science, technology and mathematics education.

    • The Health Agenda

      Commonwealth countries have long recognised that many of the issues of most importance to the health of their people are affected by factors such as finance, development, employment, housing and public utilities. Many Secretariat activities therefore take into account health concerns when designing and implementing programmes.

    • Empowering Youth

      Young people represent a third or more of the population in many countries and this proportion is expected to increase. Meeting the needs of this distinct population group has major implications for the futures of their countries and the Commonwealth believes that efforts towards social and economic growth should be coupled with strategic policies which address their special problems.

    • Partnership for Progress

      The Commonwealth is an association of peoples as much as it is of governments. This 'people' link is partly maintained through the many voluntary bodies in member countries. It has long been recognised that these non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are important, not only for national development and the quality of life in member countries but also for the promotion of understanding and co-operation within the Commonwealth.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The Secretariat

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    • Consolidating Change

      Since mid-1993, the Secretariat has reorganised its administrative structures and methods of planning and implementation to better meet the priorities for action set out by Heads of Government in the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration. The new management structure came into effect on 1 July 1993, a new feature being that Secretariat activities were driven by 15 programme areas and led by 13 divisions (see Appendices IV and V for the Secretariat's structure, Governance Matrix and programme areas).

    • Defining that Chemistry

      Curiosity about the Commonwealth spreads far wider than the association's already considerable geographical reach. Every two years, where the Commonwealth Heads of Government meet, media representatives from all over the world gather to find out how an association of such diverse peoples, political and economic systems, and cultures could possibly find common ground on so many issues-and with such relative harmony.

    • Administration

      The Secretariat was restructured in mid- 1993 to better reflect the Commonwealth's new priorities outlined by Heads of Government at the 1991 CHOGM in Harare, Zimbabwe. The main responsibility for undertaking the restructuring fell on the Administration Division, which oversees personnel and staff matters, finance and computers, general services, conference services, the library and registry, and printing.

    • Appendices
    • Abbreviations
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