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Commonwealth Journalists' Association

Here’s a press release from the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group today. Pretty groundbreaking stuff, it is all implemented..


“Now is the time for reform,” declares Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group

22 March 2011

“The Commonwealth is in danger of becoming irrelevant and unconvincing as a values-based association,” declared the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group in a closing statement issued at their meeting in London on 21-22 March 2011.

“To safeguard against this danger we will recommend to leaders the adoption of proposals that will strengthen the Commonwealth, both as an association of governments and of peoples,” the group said.

“We want the Commonwealth to be a champion of democratic values and fundamental human rights. We also want the Commonwealth to work towards narrowing the development gap between member countries, through bilateral, regional and multilateral co-operation. The whole range of Commonwealth organisations must work more effectively together,” said the group’s chairperson, Tun Abdullah Ahmed Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia.

“To actively cultivate the Commonwealth’s diverse cultural heritage and strengthen a common Commonwealth identity among its people, we would like to see increased interaction among Commonwealth scholars, professionals, artists, writers, media practitioners and sportsmen and women,” he said.

“Against this background, we are making recommendations for practical reforms to sharpen the Commonwealth’s impact and to tackle the most pressing global issues of our time.

“The next few months will be crucial and we invite further feedback from interested parties on the direction of our report before we finalise it,” he added.

At the Commonwealth Summit in Perth, Australia in October 2011, the group will call on the Commonwealth’s 54 leaders to adopt a package of reforms, including the need for adequate resources that will include the following:

Championing values

  • A ‘Charter of the Commonwealth’ to be developed by and for Commonwealth citizens.
  • Expanding the range of measures available to the Secretary-General and to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to better respond where Commonwealth values are violated.
  • Creating a Commonwealth Commissioner on Democracy and the Rule of Law to advise the Secretary-General and CMAG on serious or persistent violations of the Commonwealth’s core values.
  • Specific initiatives on HIV/AIDS around the Commonwealth.
  • Establishing academies for democracy and election training.
  • Broadening the remit to strengthen a culture of democracy, including post-election transition of governments and civic education.

Advocating for small and developing countries

  • Placing development concerns at the heart of the Commonwealth’s work by campaigning on priority global issues, leveraging its strength as a convening and influencing body. This should build on the Commonwealth’s many achievements including its landmark anti-apartheid role, debt reduction work, and more recently, advancement of Commonwealth perspectives in the international climate change debate.
  • Maximising the Commonwealth’s political influence through the use of high-level advocacy missions to advance Commonwealth perspectives in organisations such as the G20, IMF, WTO and World Bank.
  • Providing extra financial support to improve training for small states in meeting the demands of international regulatory requirements.
  • Re-focussing the Commonwealth’s work with young people to strengthen policies to provide opportunities to all young people based on merit and stimulating investment in youth enterprise.

Institution fit for purpose

  • A significant focussing of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s work plan.
  • Investment in the Secretariat to attract the best international talent.
  • Maximising time for dialogue on the priority issues of the day at the Commonwealth Summit and ministerial meetings.
  • Giving the Commonwealth Foundation an explicit mandate to mobilise Commonwealth civil society around global issues.
  • Expanding opportunities for citizens, such as scholarships and professional exchanges, and expanding the ‘footprint’ of the Commonwealth by creating incentives for Commonwealth organisations to re-locate out of the UK.

When the Eminent Persons Group has taken into account the responses on the broad directions that it is contemplating, it will complete its report and deliver it to the Commonwealth Heads of Government, who commissioned it.

In its report, the group will recommend to Heads of Government that they release the report in order to facilitate comment and debate throughout the Commonwealth.

During the meeting, the group met with the UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and Minister of State at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord David Howell.



The Eminent Persons Group was established by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their summit in November 2009. The Eminent Persons Group has been tasked with developing options for reform to sharpen the impact, strengthen the networks and raise the profile of the Commonwealth.

The group met at Marlborough House in London, UK, from 19 to 20 July 2010 and from 25 to 26 October 2010. They also met from 26 to 27 January 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and from 21 to 22 March 2011 in Marlborough House.

The group has had four meetings and will report to leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, to take place in Perth, Australia, in October 2011.

The group comprises:

  • Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Malaysia, chairperson)
  • Dr Emmanuel Akwetey (Ghana)
  • Ms Patricia Francis (Jamaica)
  • Dr Asma Jahangir (Pakistan)
  • Mr Samuel Kavuma (Uganda, Commonwealth Youth Caucus)
  • Hon Michael Kirby (Australia)
  • Dr Graca Machel (Mozambique)
  • Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind (UK)
  • Sir Ronald Sanders (Guyana)
  • Senator Hugh Segal (Canada)
  • Sir Ieremia Tabai (Kiribati)


For biographies and photos of the EPG members, please visit: