1999 Meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers and Senior Officials

1999 Meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers and Senior Officials

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 3–7 May 1999 Vol. 2 You do not have access to this content

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Sep 2001
9781848597624 (PDF)

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Commonwealth Law Ministers and Senior Officials from 42 jurisdictions met in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 3-7 May 1999. This is the second of two volumes containing most of the Memoranda prepared for the meeting, together with the Agenda and the Communiqué.
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  • Preface

    Commonwealth Law Ministers from [42] jurisdictions met in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from 3 to 7 May 1999. Most of the Memoranda prepared for the Meeting, together with the Meeting's Annotated Draft Agenda (which was adopted as the Meeting's Agenda) and the Communique are published in a separate volume from the Minutes, and is available to the public.

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

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    • Access to Justice – the Rule of Law and the Legal System

      National constitutions and treaties concerned with human rights (such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) are based on two assumptions: (a) that all persons within the jurisdiction concerned must be able to benefit from human rights provisions; and (b) that national courts have a role to play when individuals suffer action that erodes or ignores their human rights. Under many Commonwealth constitutions, the High Court or Supreme Court has a special responsibility for protecting human rights, including a power to provide appropriate relief for breaches of such rights even if this goes outside the usual remedies available from the court.

    • The Rule of Law and Independence of the Judiciary

      The debate on the issue of the independence of the judiciary and how it could be guaranteed is a matter that has engaged the regular attention of Law Ministers in particular and the legal profession generally. There is general acknowledgment that in order to perform their duties effectively, the judiciary must be independent. However, perceptions differ as to the limits of judicial independence and what this implies in practical terms.

    • Good Governance and Corruption: Note by the Commonwealth Secretariat

      At their 1996 Meeting Commonwealth Law Ministers issued a Statement on corruption and called for the establishment of an advisory working group to advise and assist the Commonwealth Secretariat in the performance of tasks relating, inter alia, to the provision of advice, the identification of strategies designed to promote an anti-corruption culture and the development of model legal strategies.

    • Good Governance and Corruption: Memorandum by the Commonwealth Secretariat

      The Meeting already has before it, in respect of Agenda item 1(b), paper number LMM(99)21 in the form of the Report of the Expert Group on Corruption set up by the Commonwealth Secretary-General to undertake a study of the impact of corruption on economic management.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Foreign And International Law Issues

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    • The Reform of the Rules Governing Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments

      In the Commonwealth context, the question of the recognition and reciprocal enforcement of judgments and orders and the Service of Process within the Commonwealth has received the consideration of Law Ministers over the years.

    • The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders

      A paper for Law Ministers (LMM(99)3) examines current steps to reform the rules governing jurisdiction and the enforcement of foreign judgments. This Note alerts Senior Officials to possible action in a closely related area, that of the reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders.

    • The World Trade Organisation Dispute Settlement Mechanism

      Conscious of the shortcomings and weaknesses of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) dispute settlement mechanism, the trade negotiators set out during the Uruguay Round to design and implement a new dispute settlement system which would command the respect and confidence of members. The new World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism is contained in the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU) and has been refered to as the "central pillar of the multilateral trading system and the WTO's most individual contribution to the stability of the global economy"

    • Access to Plant Genetic Resources Under the Convention on Biological Diversity

      For the purposes of this paper, genetic resources mean genetic material of actual or potential value. Plant genetic material is to be understood as any plant material containing genetic information which is capable of self reproduction or of being reproduced in a biological system containing functional units of heredity which may be utilised for practical applications.

    • The Rome Statute and the Need for Comprehensive Domestic Penal Legislation

      It was asserted at a recent meeting of Legal Experts convened by the International Committee of the Red Cross that no single country seems to have comprehensive penal legislation to adequately cover the subject matter jurisdiction of the new International Criminal Court. Even if this assertion is inaccurate, it is certainly difficult to identify any countries with comprehensive legislation. The fact remains that the overwhelming majority, if not all, of the countries which become Party to the Rome Statute will need to closely evaluate the extent to which their existing penal legislation covers the crimes within the Court's jurisdictional competence.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Human Rights Issues

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    • Introducing the Concept of Human Rights Impact Assessment

      Human rights impact assessment (HRIA) of government policies and programmes is a relatively new concept whereby civil society is increasingly pressurising governments to review the impact of policies and programmes on the realisation/enjoyment of human rights.

    • Towards a Comprehensive Human Rights Impact - Assessment (HRIA) policy

      It is trite to point out that of the most prominent global movements that have had a far-reaching impact on society in the late 20th Century, one is the question of the environment, while the other is the issue of fundamental human rights. There is nevertheless a marked distinction between the approach of policy-makers, activists and scholars to the two phenomena. Unlike the environment, the matter of human rights—civil and political, and economic, social and cultural—is still very much dealt with in a reactive, rather than proactive fashion.

    • The Right to Know and the Promotion of Democracy and Development

      The concept of freedom of information is founded in international human rights law and has been incorporated in the constitutions of countries. It developed out of the basic right to freedom of opinion and expression enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19) which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." In order to understand the significance of the freedom of information in the modern world we need to look at the current place of human rights in both international and national legal regimes.

    • Final Document

      Commonwealth Law Ministers at their Meeting in Barbados in 1980 emphasised that "public participation in the democratic and governmental process was at its most meaningful when citizens had adequate access to official information".

    • Contemporary Issues Affecting the Enjoyment of Human Rights: The Right to Information

      The meeting already has before it, in respect of Agenda Item 3(b)(i), paper number LMM(99)24 and LMM(99)24(Supplement) to facilitate the discussions on this agenda item.

    • Human Rights and the Environment

      In today's world, society has become more and more conscious of the tremendous environmental damage being caused to our planet. News abounds of rainforest depletion, trees dying because of acid rain, toxins present in our lakes and water supplies, and the continuous endangering and in some cases extermination of our wild life. Disasters, such as the explosion at Union Carbide's chemical complex in Bhopal, India, which cost over 2,500 lives, in addition to those who suffered injuries and displacement, the Exxon Valdez disaster, the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the former Soviet Union, have caused serious damage to our environment.

    • Proposed United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime

      Ministers may be aware that the United Nations is in the process of negotiating an international convention to combat transnational organised crime (the TOC Convention). This process follows UN Resolution 53/111 of 9th December 1998.

    • Trafficking in Persons: With Special Reference to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Women and Children

      This paper gives an overview of the problem of trafficking and the commercial, sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children. It is based on the information collated for the World Congress Against Sexual Exploitation of Children in August 1996 and is intended to raise the awareness of Law Ministers on the existence of the problem and on the measures that can be adopted to combat the problem effectively.

    • Combating Violence Against Women: The Commonwealth Secretariat Experience

      Eliminating violence against women continues to be a major challenge in the Commonwealth's efforts to promote and protect the human rights of women and children. In spite of international, regional, national and local efforts to address genderbased violence, many women and children are still being physically, psychologically and sexually abused in both the private and public spheres (in the family and at school, on the streets and at places of work, and in refugees and displaced persons' camps). To date domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment and traditional and dowryrelated violence continue to occur in varying degrees in many countries.

    • Violence Against Women

      Violence against women has been a major concern for Commonwealth Ministers Responsible for Women's Affairs since their First Meeting in Nairobi in 1985. When they met in Cyprus in 1993, Ministers requested the Commonwealth Secretariat to continue its work as a clearing house on information concerning violence against women and girls, and to disseminate materials and manuals on women's rights as human rights to Commonwealth governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

    • Criminal Justice Strategies in the Elimination of Violence Against Women - The Singapore Perspective

      In the context of this paper, "violence" refers to the infliction of physical, sexual and psychological harm. While women and men may be equally vulnerable to crimes such as robbery and murder, there are crimes to which women are additionally vulnerable: for example, rape, sexual assault and offences relating to prostitution.

    • Strengthening International Humanitarian Law at the National Level

      The establishment of the International Criminal Court following the recently concluded Treaty of Rome has helped to sharpen the focus of the international community on the various Geneva Conventions and their Protocols which both complement and supplement existing national laws to ensure that certain crimes such as genocide do not go unpunished. The establishment of the Court is the end result of years of effort to galvanise international opinion behind the need to punish serious violations of international law, including crimes which are now generally recognised as crimes against humanity.

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