Strengthening democratic institutions and promoting peace

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BY ELLISON.T.VAHI

COMMONWEALTH Heads acknowledged that as globally agreed under Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda, promoting peace, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable, and inclusive national institutions, at all levels, are essential for development to flourish.

Heads welcomed the recent establishment of the Commonwealth Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform (OCCJR) and its role in providing support to member countries in the creation of effective national laws.

Heads further agreed to adopt the Report of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). They commended CMAG for its constructive role in advancing the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values, and its complementarity to the preventative nature of the Secretary General’s Good Offices.

Heads agreed the importance of strengthening the Secretary-General’s Good Offices and its capacity to support national requests for peace building to enable sustainable peace and security, through the establishment and strengthening of national peace and dialogue processes.

Recognising the valuable role of Commonwealth Elections Observation in supporting member countries to improve democratic processes and institutions, as highlighted in recommendations by Commonwealth Observer Groups, Heads agreed a refreshed approach to election observation, by adopting the Revised Commonwealth Guidelines on Election Observation in Member Countries.

Heads encouraged the strengthening of National Human Rights Institutions in line with the Paris Principles.

They reiterated the continued importance of sharing human rights best practice and expertise across the Commonwealth.

They agreed to support National Human Rights Institutions and the Universal Periodic Review process, as well as to strengthen the Commonwealth Small States Offices.

Heads reaffirmed their commitment to the Commonwealth Principles on the Accountability of and Relationship between the Three Branches of Government (2003) as an integral part of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values.

Heads requested the Commonwealth Secretariat work in partnership with other Commonwealth organisations in promoting dialogue between the three branches of government, including through the full application of the Latimer House Principles Toolkit, which provides a practical guide to enhancing the separation of powers.

Heads noted that 2018 marks the centenary of the birth of the former President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and affirmed that the Commonwealth shares and is inspired by the values and objectives he espoused.

They called on the international community to use this centenary year to address the global challenges of poverty, inequality, discrimination and underdevelopment and to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts globally.

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