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The Commonwealth works closely with member countries to provide expertise that strengthens their legal systems and helps them pass modern and effective laws.

Enhancing legislation and legal co-operation

The challenge

Many countries increasingly rely on co-operation with other countries to combat trans-border criminal operations such as cybercrime. Under international treaties, small states and developing countries have the same obligations as developed countries, yet they have just a fraction of the legal capacity to develop appropriate legislative responses.

As a result, Commonwealth small states and developing countries often require support to help them draft and enact laws which address new and emerging domestic threats while complying with international treaty obligations. The adoption of model laws and schemes can help to address this lack of capacity and facilitate legal co-operation between member countries.

Commonwealth action

The Commonwealth helps countries to develop legal responses to threats such as the criminal use of virtual currencies or terrorism. We help countries by preparing model legislation and guides so they can implement laws and treaty commitments, such as the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court.

For example, the adoption of the Harare Scheme in 1986, and its subsequent updates, has given member countries access to mutual legal assistance to prosecute a variety of cross-border crimes. The Scheme for the Transfer of Convicted Offenders within the Commonwealth has helped to transfer prisoners to their home country to complete their sentences. In addition, the Commonwealth Model Law on Computer and Computer Related Evidence has provided countries with a legal framework to combat cybercrime.

Global value

Our work to provide legal and legislative support to Commonwealth member countries has led to the creation of effective legal instruments and more robust national legal justice systems, while strengthening international co-operation.

We have helped to reform and empower national institutions and ensure that laws are harmonised with international treaties and conventions, so that a lack of legal capacity does not prevent a state from upholding its values or commitments.