A new vision is needed for a modern Commonwealth fit for the 21st century.
A new vision is needed for a modern Commonwealth fit for the 21st century
Following the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, it’s obvious that many people will be asking questions about the Commonwealth and its relevance for the future.
The Commonwealth is at the cross-road of its history as the organisation is now facing many global challenges on human rights – especially the rights for the minorities, women rights, LGBT and gender inequalities.
There is also debt, youth unemployment, children rights, healthcare and fighting diseases, trade, poverty and malnutrition, universal education and also issues about security and the environment.
In order to address these challenges, a new vision and direction for a modern Commonwealth fit for purpose for the 21st century is needed. This is why there is an urgent need for a reform agenda to get a new Draft Commonwealth Charter.
Therefore, I urge Commonwealth countries, Commonwealth Heads of governments, Commonwealth foreign affairs ministers, Commonwealth finance ministers, the Commonwealth secretariat and Commonwealth citizens to:
1) Increase bilateral, diplomatic and multilateral co-operation between Commonwealth countries.
2) Promote free trade and increase Commercial Exchanges and promote investment and business opportunities between Commonwealth countries.
3) Create a Commonwealth Development Bank to alleviate poverty in Commonwealth developing countries.
4) Take a collective interests in the debt challenges facing developing Commonwealth States.
5) Press the five Commonwealth members of the G20 to advocate for the Commonwealth’s perspectives and policy proposals on debt, even cancellation of foreign debts.
6) Press the Secretariat to establish a mechanism, so that progress on debt issues, including from financial institutions is tracked.
7) Boost an inter-commonwealth trade.
8) Reform the Commonwealth Youth Programme and support the creation of the Commonwealth Youth Corps (CYC), the creation of a Commonwealth Youth Development Fund (CYDF) to which youth across the Commonwealth could apply for funding for entrepreneurship in their communities and also establishing National Youth Councils.
9) Appoint a Commonwealth Commissioner for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
10) Establish and strengthen National Human Rights Institutions in accordance with the UN-adopted Paris Principles.
11) Empower women and press all Commonwealth organisations to review their governance arrangements and ensure that women are included as decision-makers.
12) Combat diseases and tackle malaria and ensure that HIV/AIDS is prominent in the agendas of all relevant Commonwealth meetings, including those of law Ministers, Health Ministers, Ministers for Women’s Affairs and Youth Ministers.
13) Set up biennial separate meetings like G8 meetings for Commonwealth Finance, Trade, Foreign Affairs and Environment Ministers to focus more and improve co-operation on finance, trade, foreign affairs and the environment within the Commonwealth.
14) Lobby Commonwealth countries and Commonwealth Heads of Governments to proceed with a reform agenda and support more financing for the Secretariat.
15) Support the Commonwealth Business Council to expand its links and networks within Commonwealth countries to boost opportunities for investments, trade and businesses for common-trade, common-growth and common-wealth.
16) Support universal education and invest in primary, secondary and university education; and allow exchange of teachers and free movement of teachers, academics, university researchers and professors within Commonwealth countries.
17) Push for closer regional and international co-operation within the Commonwealth through increased co-operation between the Commonwealth and the following bodies: UN, EU, African Union, East African Community, SADC, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, IMF, World Bank, UNICEF, FAO, World Trade Organisation and World Health Organisation.
18) Support peacekeeping soldiers from Commonwealth countries for UN Peacekeeping Missions.
19) Increase co-operation between Commonwealth countries on tackling together global and regional security threats (Commonwealth Defence Ministers to meet to share intelligence on defence).
20) Unite efforts to combat climate change, illegal logging and deforestation and also tackle illegal exploitation of natural resources destroying the environment and fuelling conflicts.
As we are reminded to uphold Commonwealth values of democratic freedom and economic and social development, let us all celebrate our diversities and continue working hard to achieve equalities for a better future for the Commonwealth.
Jean-Roger Kaseki is councillor in the London Borough of Islington. He is also associate of the Human Rights & Social Justice Research Institute/ London Metropolitan University
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