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Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group Concluding Statement

1 October 2012
New York, 28 September 2012

1. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) held its Thirty-Eighth Meeting in New York on 28 September 2012.

2. The Meeting was attended by Hon Sato Kilman, Prime Minister of Vanuatu; Senator the Hon Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia; Hon Dr Dipu Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; Hon John Baird, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada; Hon AJ Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica; Hon Bernard K Membe, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Tanzania; Hon Winston Dookeran, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communications of Trinidad and Tobago; and H E Andrew Bangali, Ambassador of Sierre Leone to Ethiopia and the African Union.

3. CMAG Ministers unanimously elected Hon Dr Dipu Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, as the new Chair of CMAG.

Fiji

4. CMAG reiterated its commitment to supporting and encouraging Fiji’s reinstatement as a full member of the Commonwealth family, through the restoration of civilian constitutional democracy.

5. Ministers welcomed continued progress in Fiji, including completion of the first phase of voter registration and commencement of the constitutional consultation process. Ministers welcomed the broad-based national dialogue on Fiji’s future taking place through that process, and commended the Constitutional Commission on its work to date.

6. Ministers emphasised the importance of a constitutional process which is fully independent, inclusive and without pre-determined outcomes.

7. Ministers expressed concern about remaining restrictions on human rights and the rule of law, and urged the Government of Fiji to address these, in order to create the environment necessary for credible constitutional consultations and elections.           

8. Ministers reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s readiness to provide assistance to Fiji in appropriate ways and encouraged further high-level interaction between the Commonwealth and Fiji.

9. Ministers noted the decisions of leaders of the Pacific in relation to Fiji at a number of recent meetings, and reiterated the Commonwealth’s commitment to working in consultation and co-operation with regional and international partners.

Maldives

10. Ministers continued the discussion on the situation in Maldives following their teleconference on 11 September 2012. Ministers received with appreciation a personal briefing by H E Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, President of the Republic of Maldives.

11. The Group expressed appreciation for the work of the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Sir Don McKinnon.

12. CMAG Ministers welcomed the release of the Report of the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI), established by the Government of Maldives to inquire into the transfer of power on 7 February 2012.

13. Ministers noted the Report’s conclusion that the change of President in the Republic of Maldives on 7 February 2012 was legal and constitutional, but also that certain acts of police brutality had occurred during that period which should be further investigated. They looked forward to advice from the Government of Maldives on progress with those investigations.

14. Ministers also noted the Report’s recommendations that key institutions in Maldives, including especially the judiciary, police and human rights commission, needed further strengthening. The Group welcomed the commitment made by President Waheed to implement fully the Report’s recommendations, including implementing reforms to strengthen the independence and quality of these institutions.

15. CMAG reaffirmed its support for Commonwealth assistance to strengthen democratic processes and institutions in Maldives. The Group expressed support for the Commonwealth Secretariat’s technical assistance for strengthening the long-term capacity of the judicial sector. Ministers also welcomed the Secretary-General’s offer to provide elections-related assistance. Additionally, CMAG appreciated the continued collaboration between the Commonwealth and other international partners in the consideration of further assistance for Maldives. Ministers reiterated their readiness to engage constructively with all relevant stakeholders with the aim of reinforcing democratic institutions, Commonwealth values and principles.

16. CMAG Ministers underlined their concern that all parties in Maldives needed to work towards resolving the climate of division and discontent in order to bring about lasting national reconciliation. Ministers noted the importance of ensuring that the Majlis worked purposefully on critical legislation, without further risk of disruption. Ministers again urged against any actions that might provoke or incite violence.

17. Ministers urged party leaders to commit to dialogue, paving the way to credible elections. Ministers emphasised the need to ensure that all parties and leaders are able freely to conduct election campaigns.

18. In accordance with CMAG’s enhanced mandate, as agreed by leaders at the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Ministers further agreed that they would continue to engage with Maldives positively and constructively to support Maldives in advancing the Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles, in particular in strengthening the judiciary, in the process of democratic consolidation and in institution building. In this context, Ministers asked the Secretary-General to continue to brief the Group on progress in Maldives, including at CMAG’s next meeting.

19. Accordingly, CMAG agreed to continue to monitor the situation in Maldives, and to move consideration of Maldives in future to its agenda item “Matters of Interest to CMAG”. Ministers looked forward to Maldives’ resumption of full participation at CMAG’s next meeting, in the absence of any serious concerns.

Other Matters

20. The Group further discussed relevant options relating to the proposal made by the Eminent Persons Group for a Commonwealth Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights, as requested by Heads of Government in October 2011, in Perth. The outcomes of CMAG’s consideration of that matter will be reported to Commonwealth Foreign Ministers at their meeting on 29 September 2012.

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