14 December 2010
Review of the Role of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)
CMAG has continued to monitor the situation in Fiji Islands, which remains fully suspended from the Commonwealth. The CMAG is also continuing the review of its procedures to enable it to be more proactive in responding to situations where serious or persistent violations of Commonwealth values occur, particularly situations other than an unconstitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government, and to address the perception that CMAG is a censorious body only.
Eminent Persons Group
The EPG’s mandate is to present options for reform that strengthen the networks, sharpen the impact and raise the profile of the Commonwealth. At its first two meetings this year, the EPG has consulted widely and considered a range of options aimed at ensuring that the Commonwealth remains relevant to its times, and has started to develop proposals such as a stronger and more public adherence to the Commonwealth’s values including human rights. The EPG will hold two further meetings in 2011 and will present its conclusions and recommendations to leaders at the 2011 CHOGM.
Network of National Election Management Bodies
A pan-Commonwealth conference of Election Management Bodies was held in Accra in May this year and a Steering Committee was subsequently formed which has started to outline the parameters of the network and its work programme including sharing of best practice and capacity-building. Much of this is likely to be internet-based. Member governments have been asked to provide resources for the network now that its scope and content are clear so that it can brought to life practically.
The parameters of the Secretary-General’s ‘Good Offices for the Environment’ role have been defined, and the first practical result is a conference in the UK in January 2011 aimed at assisting vulnerable states to improve their access to climate change finance. Work on climate change and trade policy in small island developing states and other vulnerable economies has been developed. In addition, support has been provided to Parliamentarians to strengthen their capacity to develop and scrutinise climate change policy frameworks.
Geneva Office for Small States
The doors of the Geneva Small States Office open on 17 January 2011, with several member states indicating clear interest in becoming tenants and others providing financial contributions to defray the tenants’ costs. The Office will provide space for diplomatic missions of small states as well as trade and human rights experts and a business centre for visiting small state delegations attending multilateral meetings in Geneva.
Global Interface/Global Governance
The Commonwealth together with La Francophonie has engaged with the G20 Chairs in both Toronto and Seoul this year and presented each time the key concerns of the many vulnerable states not represented at the G20 table, focussing especially on the financial debt and liquidity challenges of small states. The Secretaries-General of the Commonwealth and La Francophonie are planning similarly to meet the Chair of the G20 Summit in 2011.
Commonwealth Partnership Platform Portal (CP3)
Work is continuing to design and launch the Commonwealth internet gateway initially featuring three thematic windows on ‘Democratic Values and Good Governance’, ‘Education and Skills Development’ and ‘Youth as Nation Builders’. Open Text, a Canadian company, is providing the technical platform. A new name for the Portal is also being pursued, to increase its attractiveness, particularly to young Commonwealth citizens.