Business dominates CHOGM.

Author:Foottit, Claire
Position:1997 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Trade, business and sustainable development took centre stage at this year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh.

"The Commonwealth means business and business needs the Commonwealth," said Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Commonwealth Secretary-General, speaking at the beginning of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh, at the end of October.

Fifty-one countries were represented at CHOGM, including delegations from 15 African countries, although President Moi of Kenya declined to attend. Human rights and democracy, although not specifically on the agenda, were an ever-present issue.

President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone was at the meeting by special invitation, while the military coup which ousted the democratically elected government of Sierra Leone in May this year was condemned by CHOGM.

Despite threats made at the Auckland meeting in 1995 to expel Nigeria if it continued to flout the principles outlined in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration of 1991 - namely democracy, good governance, sustainable development, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms - Nigeria won a year's reprieve but remains suspended from the Commonwealth.

The Gambia's steps towards civilian, democratic and constitutional rule were welcomed. Rwanda was unsuccessful in obtaining membership and will be monitored for reconsideration at the next CHOGM which takes place in South Africa in 1999.

Taking an economic theme for the first time, the conference focused on 'Trade and investment: the road to Commonwealth prosperity,' which resulted in the heads of government adopting the 'Edinburgh Commonwealth Economic Declaration on Promoting Shared Prosperity.' It was recognised that increasing globalisation in the world economy gives opportunities, but needs to be carefully managed to meet the risks inherent in the process.

The Commonwealth aims to follow a broad set of principles: to gear the world economy towards promoting universal growth and prosperity for all; to involve all countries in economic decision making; to remove the obstacles which prevent developing countries playing their full part in the evolution of the global economy, and to ensure that international regimes effecting economic relations provide symmetrical benefits for all.

Special measures are required to integrate small states and the least developed countries. To this effect a new Trade and Investment Access Facility has been...

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