Report of the Commonwealth Secretary-General 1997

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Author(s):
Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Jan 1997
Pages:
144
ISBN:
9781848596122 (PDF)
http://dx.doi.org/10.14217/9781848596122-en

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This report of the Commonwealth Secretary-General covers the period 2005 to 2007. The chapters in the report outline the range of activities undertaken by the Commonwealth in pursuant of its commitments since the Secretary-General last reported to Heads of Government in Auckland in 1995.
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  • The Commonwealth: In Pursuit of the Millbrook Action Plan

    Commonwealth Heads of Government meet this year in Edinburgh, at a time when there is a great resurgence of interest in the association within and outside the Commonwealth. This reawakening of interest in the Commonwealth is no accident. It reflects the enlarging role of the association in meeting the new challenges of a rapidly changing world.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Advancing Fundamental Political Values

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    • After Millbrook

      The Commonwealth backed with concrete steps its commitment to promoting its fundamental values when the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme on the Harare Declaration was endorsed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in New Zealand in November 1995 (full text at Appendix I).

    • Advancing the Democratic Ethic

      The Commonwealth's commitment to its fundamental political values, and especially to the democratic ethic, deepened with the endorsement of the Millbrook Action Programme by Heads of Government in 1995. By mid-1997, only two military regimes remained among the Commonwealth's 53 members: Nigeria had been suspended from membership in 1995; Sierra Leone had suffered a reverse in its democratic evolution in May 1997 with a military coup. Both countries remain on CMAG's agenda.

    • Government and the Rule of Law

      The Millbrook Action Programme emphasised good government, the rule of law and independence of the judiciary, constitutional and legal structures which underpin democracy, respect for human rights, and sound institutions relevant to all these, as being among measures central to the upholding of Commonwealth fundamental values. Secretariat legal and related programmes and activities are designed to assist member countries in establishing or strengthening existing frameworks in these areas and enabling them to adapt to the challenges of more open and accountable government.

    • South Africa: Consolidating the Transition

      The three years since South Africa's transformation into a multiracial democracy and its return to Commonwealth membership have seen a remarkable exercise in rebuilding a nation. Following the first democratic national elections in April 1994, the Government of National Unity embarked on a broad programme of change to consolidate multiracial democracy. The final Constitution, which came into force in 1997, entrenched a Bill of Rights and provided a range of new institutions to buttress the young democracy.

    • Gender Integration

      Commonwealth commitment to true equality through gender integration has deepened with the implementation of the 1995 Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender and Development. This Plan was first unveiled at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, and subsequently endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Promoting Sustainable Development

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    • Foundations for Economic Growth

      The 1990s have seen a period of sustained world economic growth and rising prosperity spurred by the globalisation of trade and foreign investment flows, and prudent macroeconomic policies.

    • Investment and Private Sector Development

      The Commonwealth recognises that countries should strive for sound economic management based on market forces and that a wider role for the private sector, including the domestic private sector, must be found. Greater investment and a better flow of both foreign and domestic private capital go hand-in-hand with achieving these objectives.

    • Public Sector Reform

      The public services in all Commonwealth countries are under pressure as never before. Each is faced with new tasks - and yet many are organised to meet outdated priorities. Pressure from taxpayers, from politicians determined to reduce government debt and from international funds is forcing budget cuts.

    • Foundations in Industry

      Following a major review of its industrial programme in 1993/94, the Secretariat has emphasised the development and implementation of projects with the primary aim of promoting the sustainable development of small states, creating an enabling environment for the growth of small and medium enterprises, including entrepreneurship development, and strengthening institutions. Particular attention is given to technology promotion, the development of micro-enterprises and involving more women in the process of industrialisation.

    • In Search of New Markets

      The conclusion of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations in 1994 substantially changed world trade. The result has been the opening up of international trade to global competition. Since then, it has become imperative for countries who have enjoyed preferential access to certain markets to find new markets and diversify their products.

    • Tackling Poverty

      Global poverty continues to grow, with about 90 per cent of the world's 1.3 billion poor living in rural areas. Poor food supplies and malnutrition are inextricably linked with poverty, and about 70 per cent of poor people are women. The lack of opportunity and employment in rural areas is also having an impact on urban communities, with the rise in migration to the cities.

    • Exploiting Natural Resources

      Member countries are keen to exploit natural resources, such as minerals, petroleum and marine life, in order to increase their income from natural wealth. Governments therefore seek private capital, usually through foreign investment, for the commercialisation of these resources. Responding to their requests, the Secretariat advises on appropriate legal, economic and fiscal terms for such exploitation.

    • Capacity-Building

      Commonwealth developing countries are in a period of transition. They are experiencing rapid economic, social and political change and need to strengthen their ability to reorient their economies and implement policy changes in pursuit of sustainable economic development. The Secretariat helps them do this in two ways: by building up local skills through training, and by providing expertise, usually from other developing countries, in key positions.

    • Building for the Future

      People are at the heart of development. Much of the Secretariat's work is therefore directed towards achieving greater equity of opportunity and better quality of life for people.

    • Training to Enhance Skills

      In order to help countries develop the skills they need for sustainable development, the Secretariat, through the CFTC, supports the training needs of member countries in a number of ways. Broadly, it offers training packages designed to help meet strategic human resource requirements, and assists local and regional institutions in improving their ability to offer relevant courses. It also provides opportunities for upgrading technical and vocational skills.

    • Education - Investing in People

      Commonwealth experiences in education differ widely. Some member countries have long since attained universal access to most levels of education; others are still struggling to achieve universal basic education; yet others are taking desperate measures to prevent a decline in enrolment ratios. Some countries are preoccupied with refining the quality of primary and secondary education and maximising access to tertiary education; others still have difficulty achieving minimum standards in basic education.

    • ABC of Health

      The health of people is interconnected with many other aspects of human resource development. The Secretariat works to meet the health needs of member governments while recognising the key roles played in the health field by other major international agencies.

    • Realising the Potential of Youth

      More than half of the Commonwealth's 1.7 billion citizens are young people. Over the past two years, the Secretariat - through the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) - has adopted a more comprehensive and integrated way of meeting their special needs. This is based on a three-pronged strategy for action in national youth policy development, human resource development and youth empowerment, which was endorsed in 1995 by Commonwealth Ministers Responsible for Youth Affairs in consultation with young people.

    • Development Through Science

      Skilled management of science and technology is essential for development. In order to help member countries increase their capability and expertise in these areas, the Secretariat, through the work of the Commonwealth Science Council (CSC), emphasises four main areas for action: management of biological diversity and genetic resources, water and mineral resources, energy, and capability-building. This last area was added at the 19th biennial meeting of the CSC in Malawi in May 1997.

    • Small States, Special Needs

      More than half the Commonwealth's 53 member countries are small states, with special characteristics - they are either physically very small or have populations of less than 1.5 million. They have similar developmental, political, economic and security problems despite their different geographic locations and socio-economic circumstances.

    • The Environment

      Concern for the environment continues to be integrated into almost every area of the Secretariat's economic and social developmental work. At the root of this is recognition that good environmental practice is a pre-condition for sustainable development. The core of this work is promoting agreement on major environmental issues, the integration of economic and environmental policies, technical assistance and training in environmental management, and support for the Iwokrama International Rainforest Programme in Guyana.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Consensus-Building

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    • The Commonwealth in the Global Community

      The Commonwealth has a key role in building consensus on issues of global importance. In recognition of this, the Millbrook Action Programme outlined a greater role for the association in using its unique characteristics to build bridges across traditional international divides of opinion.

    • The Commonwealth Family

      Voluntary associations and NGOs contribute extensively to Commonwealth co-operation and understanding. They are often credited with giving the association its unique character and identity, making it as much an extended family of peoples as it is of governments. NGOs have specialised knowledge and expertise, are familiar with the communities they work in, and are therefore natural partners in the design and delivery of development assistance.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Instrument of Change - The Secretariat

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    • New Challenges for the Secretariat

      The Secretariat continues to be sensitive to the changing priorities and developmental needs of member governments, especially as outlined at CHOGMs and various ministerial meetings. Since 1 July 1993, the Secretariat has organised its work within the framework of a three-year strategic plan approved by the Steering Committee of Senior Officials (SCOSO). This Committee, which now meets once in three years, provides broad operational and resource allocation guidance, and strategic direction to the Secretariat's work.

    • Information and Public Affairs

      The announcement by Heads of Government in 1995 of the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme gave a substantial boost to the Commonwealth's international standing and brought with it much favourable comment.

    • Administration

      Since the Secretariat was restructured in mid-1993, it has delivered expanded and more sharply focused programmes and services to member governments in accordance with the principles set out in the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration and the priority concerns which governments have identified. Administration support is provided especially in the areas of personnel management, financial management, accommodation, and conference, printing, information technology and library services.

    • Appendices and Abbreviations
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