Perspectives of the Commonwealth charter in focus


12-March-2013

The speakers (above) and audience at yesterday’s debate


The discussions were moderated by secretary of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Barry Faure, and launched by Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam, who said the charter is in many ways a reflection of our Constitution.

Noting that Seychelles will be vying for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations, Mr Adam welcomed suggestions from representatives of the Liaison Unit for Non-governmental Organisations who pledged to support the bid.

Former Minister Simone de Commarmond – who spoke on behalf of Lungos – said the work of such organisations should be seen to complement government efforts and vice-versa, rather than each body seeming to work in isolation from the other.

The dean of the diplomatic corps, Indian high commissioner Thanglura Darlong, outlined the many areas in which his country has supported the Commonwealth’s efforts in reciprocal moves with the global body.

British high commissioner Lindsay Skoll told those present how big the Commonwealth is, representing 2 billion people, but added that despite her country contributing an annual £40 million to the organisation, the UK has no special voting rights and “all members are equal”.

In her presentation, the acting head for Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat Karen McKenzie noted that our National Assembly discussed the charter in its sitting yesterday (which she attended).

Among key people present was attorney general Ronny Govinden, members of the National Assembly as well as senior government officials and students who discussed the charter.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “the charter is the single accessible document which brings together the values and aspirations that unite the Commonwealth, such as democracy, human rights and rule of law, encapsulating all the values that are cherished by the diverse membership of the Commonwealth family.

The charter was announced on December 19, 2012 as marking a new era for the organisation.

Seychelles has been an active member in the Commonwealth since this country’s independence in 1976, and was one of 12 countries asked to be part of the Ministerial Task Force established following the Perth meeting in 2011 to review and renew the work of the Commonwealth to better meet the challenges of its member states.

Other members of the task force are Australia, Barbados, Belize, Canada, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Solomon Islands and the United Kingdom.

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