Report of the Commonwealth Secretary-General 1999

Report of the Commonwealth Secretary-General 1999

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Jan 1999
9781848597112 (PDF)

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This biennial report to Commonwealth Heads of Government on the mandates and activities of the Commonwealth Secretariat from July 1997 to June 1999 is preceded by an introduction by the Commonwealth Secretary-General which is a personal comment on the progress of the Commonwealth over the last decade of the 20th century. The report is presented to Commonwealth leaders before their biennial summit.

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  • From Kuala Lumpur to Durban

    The Secretary-General's biennial report to Commonwealth Heads of Government has traditionally been limited in scope and time. In substance, it has usually covered the activities of the association in the two-year interval between summits; and my previous reports have been in that format. In this report, however, I intend to take a longer term perspective and to reflect on the work of the association in my time as its principal servant.

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

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    • A Commonwealth of Principles

      After celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1999, the Commonwealth enters the new millennium firmly committed to the fundamental values outlined in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration of 1991. The Commonwealth's distinctive roles, as identified in this landmark document, are in the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law, sustainable socioeconomic development and consensus-building on global issues.

    • Deepening Democracy

      The principles enshrined in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration of 1991 - encompassing fundamental political values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law - are widely accepted in the Commonwealth. Indeed, since the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Edinburgh in 1997, adherence to these principles is essential for an application for membership to succeed. Since 1995 the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (see previous chapter) has met to deal with 'serious and persistent' violations of these principles.

    • Strengthening Good Governance and the Law

      The rule of law, and just and honest government are the strongest underpinnings of democracy. The main thrust of the Secretariat's activities in the legal field have been in four complementary directions: assisting governments to strengthen their constitutions and constitutional instruments (see Chapter 1); helping member countries improve the quality of their legal and judicial systems; promoting greater awareness and compliance with human rights conventions and associated agreements; and facilitating member country participation in global co-operation to combat serious crime.

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

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    • Promoting Prosperity: After the Edinburgh Declaration

      In their 1997 Edinburgh Economic Declaration, Heads of Government adopted a programme of action to promote prosperity throughout the Commonwealth by enhancing trade, investment, development and the environment. They also emphasised the need for globalisation to he carefully managed in order to minimise its inherent risks. These risks were exposed by the worsening of the financial crisis in East Asia in 1997-98 and when it spread to other parts of the world.

    • Small States: Overcoming Vulnerability

      The Commonwealth has taken several major initiatives to increase international awareness of the vulnerability of small states and assist their sustainable development. It is especially concerned as 32 of its 54 member states are classified as small states - they have populations of less than 1.5 million, or are deemed to have characteristics that make them as vulnerable as small states. They all have similar develop-mental, political, economic, human resource and security problems.

    • Strengthening Economic Management

      The 1997-98 financial crisis in East Asia and in emerging markets has underlined the need for sound economic management based on market forces and a strong private sector. The Secretariat supports the efforts of member countries to strengthen this management through policy advice and assistance with implementation of policy in the areas of debt management, private sector development and exploitation of mineral, petroleum and marine resources.

    • Public Sector Management and Public Service Reform

      The Commonwealth recognises that an efficient, effective, transparent and dedicated public administration is one of the main foundations of national development. The Secretariat therefore assists member countries to build their national administrative capacities (in the forms of government and civil institutions, knowledge and skills) to manage the policies which are essential for good governance in the 21st century.

    • Trade and Enterprise Development

      The Secretariat has been engaged for some time in assisting governments in developing countries to cope with what has been called a global industrial revolution. This 'revolution', which is linked to the globalisation process, gives developing countries the opportunity to improve their economic growth by creating more competitive enterprises on the one hand, and a more vibrant trade sector on the other. In 1997, Commonwealth Heads of Government placed trade and investment high on the development agenda and reaffirmed their commitment to support programmes in these critical areas which are funded by the CFTC.

    • Capacity-Building

      Member countries are experiencing rapid economic, social and political change and need to strengthen their capabilities in order to cope with and take advantage of the opportunities in the new global economic environment. Many, however, especially small states, do not have sufficiently skilled personnel or the institutional structure they need to formulate and implement appropriate government policies.

    • The Environment

      In the Langkawi Declaration on Environment in 1989, Commonwealth Heads of Government expressed their belief that environmental protection should he balanced with promoting economic growth and sustainable development. Eight years later, at Edinburgh, they re-emphasised the shared interest of all countries in protecting the environment and strengthening co-operation in this area in order to achieve sustainable development.

    • The Human Dimension of Development

      Development entails sensible use of available resources, especially human resources. This was emphasised in the report Foundation for the Future (1993) which has been the basis for Secretariat initiatives in human resource development since then. The report reiterated that an educated and healthy population should be at the core of efforts to raise skills and knowledge needed for social, economic and political progress.

    • Empowering Young People

      By the year 2005, more than half of the world's population will be below 30 - perhaps as much as 70 per cent in the world's least developed countries. Young people are the most important resource for the future development of Commonwealth nations - as well as being a key sector of society today.

    • Science and Technology

      The Secretariat continues to promote the development and maintenance of co-operative networks in new and emerging areas of science and technology. It does so to assist member countries increase their capability and expertise in these areas - and to meet their obligations to international agreements, especially those relevant to sustainable development.

    • A Gender Blueprint for the Future

      The pursuit of gender equality and social justice is important for development. Although progress has been made in advancing the political, social and economic rights of women, gender inequabities persist at all levels and in all countries. The promotion of equality and equity of outcomes for women and men is therefore still critical.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Governance and Management

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    • A Commonwealth for the Millennium

      The Commonwealth moves into the new millennium strengthened by ties of co-operation and consultation, and reinvigorated by new mandates and delivery mechanisms. There is close consultation and fellow feeling among Commonwealth organisations as they look to the future. The three main intergovernmental agencies - the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) - consult once a year under the umbrella of the Commonwealth Agencies Consultative Committee (CACC).

    • The Commonwealth as News Maker

      The Commonwealth was rarely out of the public eye in the two years since mid-1997. CMAG's deliberations over Nigeria, and that country's eventual return to membership, the high-level mission to persuade international organisations of the concerns of small states in the new global trading system, the Secretary-General's personal efforts to ease tensions in places as diverse as Solomon Islands and Zanzibar - these were just some of the events that put the Commonwealth at the forefront of international affairs.

    • Reshaping the Secretariat Administration

      Progress towards reshaping the administration of the Secretariat to provide efficient and cost-effective support in personnel management, financial control, office accommodation, conference servicing, printing and information technology continued.

    • Appendices
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