Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called for a comprehensive reform to the Commonwealth to achieve the desired goals and meet constantly evolving needs and expectations of the member states.
“We recommend formation of an Eminent Persons Group [EPG] to undertake a comprehensive reform of Commonwealth,” she said at the first executive session of the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Lancaster House in London, reports UNB.
She also called for reorientation and reorganisation of the roles and functions of various Commonwealth bodies. “The roles and functions of various Commonwealth bodies need reorientation and reorganisation to meet the constantly evolving needs and expectations of the member states.”
Hasina stressed the need for revitalisation of the Commonwealth Secretariat through a comprehensive reform to achieve the goals identified in this CHOGM.
She noted with appreciation the Strategic Plan 2020-21 of the Commonwealth Secretariat in line with the objectives of the Charter and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Lauding the Secretariat for developing an annual delivery plan, the PM said the move should be considered as a beginning and part of the broader and comprehensive reform to the Commonwealth to make it more people- and development-centric organisation.
She suggested that the Secretariat should continue to intensify its focus on development issues, capacity building, technology transfer, aid for trade and investment related issues.
Besides, the Secretariat should design action plans to implement the Commonwealth declarations on connectivity, cyber security and governance, as well as blue charter, Hasina said.
Noting that the role of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) is sensitive while dealing with delicate country situations, she said it should have comprehensive understanding of the situations it is dealing with in the spirit of Commonwealth consensus.
Hasina said upholding democracy, good governance and the rule of law are the cherished aims and these are also the basis for sustainable peace and stability.
She observed that a positive engagement for supporting development of the institutions of democracy and good governance is the best way to protect democracy, peace and stability in the Commonwealth member countries.
The premier hoped the Commonwealth would focus on result-oriented efforts in its work in the next two years centring more on trade, economic and sustainable development and practical challenges faced by majority of the member countries.
She expressed optimism that the 25th CHOGM would help the association take a leap forward in realising the vision and shared responsibility for a poverty-free, progressive, prosperous, vibrant and visionary Commonwealth of nations for the future generations.
BRITISH QUEEN OPENS CHOGM
Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth, yesterday opened the Commonwealth summit expressing optimism that the 53-member organisation would secure a safer, more prosperous and sustainable world for the future generation, reports BSS.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the meeting as the Queen welcomed the heads of governments of the Commonwealth nations to Buckingham Palace.
“Commonwealth is growing stronger year by year... I believe we will secure a safer and more prosperous and sustainable world for the future generation,” the Queen said while declaring open the meet with its theme being “Towards a Common Future”.
Issues to feature the two-day summit include ocean conservation, cyber security, trade, plastic waste and the Queen's successor as the Commonwealth head. The Queen backed her son Prince Charles to take over.
“It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949,” the Queen said.
'MAKE TRADE REGIME MORE INCLUSIVE'
UNB adds: Hasina yesterday called upon the Commonwealth members to work for making multilateral trade regime more inclusive and sustainable one.
She was speaking at another event titled “A More Prosperous Future” (The [Windsor] Declaration on the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment).
Hasina said early operationalisation of the Commonwealth Trade Financing Facility, launched at CHOGM 2015 in Malta, is critical.
Bangladesh has always called for the promotion of a rule-based, transparent, inclusive and fair multilateral trade regime, she added.
“Yet, the lack of any significant outcome of the 11th WTO ministerial meeting leaves us disappointed at the blocking of the pro-poor development-oriented agenda under the Doha Round of Trade Talks.”
She thanked the Commonwealth Secretariat for preparing the draft of the revised Guidelines for Conduct of Election Observation in member countries.
The PM said the Bangladesh delegation had provided comments on the draft at length and its senior officials discussed the issue. “While we understand the need to revise the original guidelines adopted in 1991, we also believe the revision should be approached systematically and pragmatically as part of the broader reforms of the Commonwealth.”
'MAKE BLUE CHARTER WORKABLE'
Addressing a session at the CHOGM at Lancaster House, the Bangladesh PM yesterday said countries in various regional groups need to collaborate beyond their regions for capacity-building, technology sharing, and research to harness blue economy avenues.
The programme was titled “A More Sustainable Future (Adoption of Commonwealth Blue Charter)”, reports UNB.
Hasina said Bangladesh fully endorses adoption of the Commonwealth Blue Charter. “Bangladesh, as a littoral country of the Bay of Bengal and member of Bimstec, Saarc and IORA, has relentlessly been promoting a blue economy for sustainable management of our oceans, seas and marine resources.”
The Charter articulates a number of innovative approaches, including the formation of the Blue Charter Action Fund and the Blue Champions, she said. The premier hoped that Commonwealth member states would make the Charter workable in the soonest possible time.
She cautioned over threats of cyber-attacks and spread of terrorism through the internet, saying that addressing the issues on the basis of “zero-tolerance” policy is important for the future generations.
Welcoming the Commonwealth Cyber Declaration, Hasina said the principles and guidelines for cooperation in cyber governance, as outlined in the declaration, are crucial.