, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, Nov 30 – The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting closed on Monday in the Port of Spain after reaching agreement on key issues among them the declaration on climate change.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the Heads of Government among them President Mwai Kibaki affirmed their commitment to the Commonwealth values and principles.
On climate change, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Lake Victoria Commonwealth Climate Change Action Plan.
In addition to its commitments to climate change, the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting also admitted Rwanda to the bloc.
Rwanda became the 54th member of the Commonwealth having fulfilled the criteria and procedures which had been agreed on at the 2007 Commonwealth meeting.
In its communiqué, the Commonwealth Heads of Government welcomed the reinstatement of Pakistan in the Councils of the Commonwealth following the conduct of credible elections in the country in February 2008 and assumption of office by an elected civilian Government in April 2008.
In the same vein, the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting suspended Fiji from its membership due to the country’s leadership action of abrogating the nation’s constitution and imposition of restrictions on human rights.
The meeting further endorsed a call for the interim Government of Fiji to commit itself to credible, inclusive and time bound political dialogue towards the restoration of the constitutional civilian democracy without further delay, and for the protection of human rights and rescission of the Public Emergency Regulation.
The CHOGM meeting also welcomed the Global Political Agreement on power sharing in Zimbabwe and expressed hope that the pact would be implemented faithfully and effectively.
The Commonwealth leaders expressed hope that Zimbabwe will fulfil conditions that have been given for its return to the Commonwealth fold.
On the world economic situation, the Commonwealth meeting noted with concern the devastating impact the global financial meltdown has had on economies across the member states saying economic growth in nearly all commonwealth countries has been below potential levels.
The leaders said the living standards of Commonwealth citizens have declined and progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially in least Developed Countries, has been reversed.
They, therefore, supported the G-20’s call for advice on promoting development and poverty reduction as part of rebalancing global economic growth.
In addition, the Commonwealth leaders recognised that members in many regions including those in Africa had demonstrated encouraging economic resilience reflecting the presence of stronger macroeconomic and other policy reform frameworks.
On reforming international institutions, the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting reiterated their intention to accelerate UN reforms and their effective implementation as a matter of urgency through lobbying and advocacy in the United Nations itself as well as in other international fora.
They however, said the Commonwealth should lead by example by striving to achieve the highest standards possible.
The summit also emphasised the importance of promoting sustainable development with regard to environment, infrastructure, entrepreneurship and human resource development.
On food security the meeting said poverty remains the fundamental cause of food insecurity and therefore called for increased investment in sustainable agriculture and rural development, stressing the importance of a coherent, multi-dimensional approach to sustainable agriculture.
In this connection, they agreed to strive to ensure that food, agricultural trade and overall trade policies and supporting infrastructure, including irrigation, were conducive to fostering food security for all through a fair and market oriented world system.
They also agreed to take urgent actions to meet the declaration’s objectives to achieve the MDG targets on hunger by 2015, to reverse the decline in funding for food security and to tackle the challenge that climate change poses to food security.
On the health sector, the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting reaffirmed its commitment to attaining the health related MDGs and the need to closely monitor progress towards achieving these goals. They noted with concern the lack of progress towards achieving goals for maternal and reproductive health which is the most off-track.
In recognising the huge diversity in health needs across the Commonwealth, the leaders agreed on a Commonwealth Health Compact through which they called on donor countries to deliver existing commitments for financing in health.
They also welcomed the steps taken by low income countries towards universal access to health services and making them free at the point of use.
Kenya has continued to successfully implement the MDG’s in all sectors having made tremendous progress in education and health sectors despite various challenges that have hindered accelerated realisation of the programme.
In education, the Free Primary Education programme which began to be implemented by President Mwai Kibaki immediately after he took the reins of power has enabled thousands of school-age children to enrol in schools.
At the same time, the subsidised secondary school fees plan has tremendously improved the transition rate at the two levels of education.
With regard to health, the Government has established an immunization programme which is free to all children under five years.
Through this initiative, Kenya has managed to raise the coverage of immunization to almost 80 percent while almost 70 percent of children aged five years and below sleep under mosquito nets distributed free of charge by the Government.
The Government is also providing free antiretroviral drugs to patients and has established a large number of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) centers throughout the country to provide free services.
The Trinidad and Tobago Commonwealth meeting attracted a total of 5,000 delegates who included non Commonwealth members among them the United Nations Secretary General, the Prime Minister of Denmark and the President of France.
The next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will be held in Australia in the year 2011.