Accra, April 11, GNA – Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Chairman of the Consultative Committee on the Charter of the Commonwealth, has said as leading members of the organisation, Ghanaians must learn more about the Commonwealth and get acquainted with its Revised Draft Charter.

Speaking at a ceremony on Wednesday for the presentation of a report on Ghana’s Revised Draft Charter of the Commonwealth to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MOFARI), Dr Akwetey said it was important for Ghanaians to know about the commonwealth because there were great opportunities there.

Dr Akwetey, who is also the Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) and a member of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of the Commonwealth, said Ghana’s inputs and contributions were highly valued by the Commonwealth thus the Revised Charter would show Ghana’s inputs on the various aspects of the charter.

He said the revisions were necessary as the provisions of the Charter would reflect the sensibilities of African States especially with regard to emerging human rights issues and also cover relevant ones such as terrorism and the proliferation of arms so that the Commonwealth would be able to address them.

Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Minister Of Foreign Affairs And Regional Integration, said the decision by Heads Of State and Government of the Commonwealth to establish the EPG with the mandate to examine options for reform of the organization at its 2009 meeting in Port-of–Spain was very timely as there was growing sentiments that the Commonwealth was in danger of becoming irrelevant.

“Many had doubted its ability to continue to be a significant organization among its own member states, let alone to be an influential community within the wider network of global organizations” he stated.

Alhaji Mumuni said the proposal for a Charter of the Commonwealth was one of the 43 out of the 106 recommendations in the EPG’s report that was endorsed by the Heads of Government. The Charter was to consolidate the core principles and values of the organization into a single composite document.

“This, it was felt, would establish a Commonwealth “Spirit”- one which would be shared by the peoples of the Commonwealth, their governments and which would firmly institute the concept of a Commonwealth whose collective purpose would be driven by the aspirations of the people” he added.

Ghana’s Revised Commonwealth Charter was in response to the request by the Heads of Government for all member states to undertake national consultations to deliberate on the draft text presented by the EPG in order to make inputs for consideration by a ministerial task force to be established by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Alhaji Mumuni said the revised draft was the first step in the consultative process and called on the media to help disseminate the contents of the draft and to create platforms for discussion on the revised draft so that the views of the people could be incorporated into the final document.

He reiterated the fact that the provisions in the final document must reflect the sensibilities of Ghanaians in particular and Africans in general. Citing the example of homosexuality, he noted that, making homosexuality a human rights issue would be unacceptable to Ghanaians as our norms and traditions frown on such practice.

The revised Charter covers the values of the Commonwealth including International Peace and Security, support for the United Nations and other international organizations in the search for peace, disarmament and development, democracy as the central principle for good governance of commonwealth states, responsibilities of governments, political parties and civil society for upholding democracy, accountability of public officials and electoral integrity among others.

It noted that human rights are applicable to all persons in the Commonwealth and reaffirms its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Of 1948, gender equality. It states that equality and respect for the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds, are foundations for the creation and maintenance of a peaceful, just and stable society.

The Charter also notes that Ghana believes in human diversity and dignity and opposes all forms of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, creed, gender or other like cause. “We believe in freedom of thought, conscience and religion and oppose discrimination upon any such ground.”

Other areas covered under the values of the Commonwealth included good governance, rule of law, civil society and development agenda.

The Revised Charter also outlines the aspirations of the Commonwealth including cooperation, strength and unity and recognizes the particular vulnerabilities of small island and developing states and the need for a concerted action by the international community to address their special needs and pursue innovative and practical support for small states.

The full text of the Ghana’s Revised Draft Charter of the Commonwealth would be published on the government of Ghana’s website (www.ghana.gov.gh) for comments and inputs by the general public to inform the final draft to the Commonwealth Secretariat.

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