Introductory Remarks by Deputy Minister
Aziz Pahad at a Press Briefing on the Commonwealth Heads
of State or Government Meeting
South Africa will host the next biennial Commonwealth
Heads of Government (CHOGM) from 12 to 15 November 1999.
This occasion also marks the 50th anniversary since
the inception of the Commonwealth Heads of Government
Meeting, and South Africa is privileged to host the
last meeting before the new millennium.
The meeting will be held at the International Convention
Centre (ICC) in Durban. The Heads of Government will
travel to George for the traditional Retreat on the
weekend of the 13/14 November.
Heads of Government 40 confirmed
Foreign Ministers 40 - 50 Spouses 60 - 70
Delegates 2840 - 3570
Foreign Support Staff 400 - 500
Local Support Staff 1900 - 2300
Media 550 - 750
As is customary, Her Majesty the Queen will pay a state
visit to South Africa prior to the commencement of the
meeting, after which she will address the CHOGM Opening
ceremony. The Commonwealth is a unique grouping of countries
who share a common commitment to peace, non-racism,
and people-centred sustainable economic development.
It represents 1.7 billion people from 54 countries;
it accounts for 20% of all world trade 58% of investment
in its developing country members, and includes half
of the world's 10 fastest growing economies.
The theme for this year's meeting is; "People-centred
development, the challenge of globalisation" .
biggest challenge for the international community today
is to create political and economic conditions conducive
to sustained human development.
Most of the developing economies are not fully integrated
and therefore do not benefit from the global trading
system. The 1999 - Human Development report indicates
that since 1980, 60 countries have been getting poorer.
The World Bank estimates that the number of people
living on less than $1.45 a day has increased from 1.3
billion in 1987 to 1.5 billion in 1999. The level of
poverty which is accompanied by inadequate health care
has led to the alarming spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS
The WHO has called on Africa to declare a "State
of emergency" regarding AIDS. The Commonwealth
has a crucial role to play in combating the threat to
our very existence.
The modern world is fast becoming a global neighborhood
and in this context, it is imperative that globalisation
should strive to improve the participation by people
who need development in the political and economic lives
of their countries.
Against this background, the Commonwealth, as an organisation
with a vision, provides a high profile bridge between
countries of the North and the South, with the aim of
facilitating trade and economic development between
Member countries are also affiliated to regional economic
groupings such as SADC, ASEAN, CARRICOM, NAFTA and multilateral
organisations such as the UN, the OAU, E.U. and G7.
The Commonwealth encompassing all stages of economic
development and united by a common purpose has the ideal
opportunity to pursue people-centred sustainable development.
The meeting will provide an opportunity for Commonwealth
leaders to review international political and economic
developments and examine avenues for Commonwealth co-operation
for development, i.e. consider both the work done over
the past two years and agree on priorities and programmes
for the future.
The interaction will enable us to advance the interests
of the developing countries during the discussions at
the ACP -EU negotiations WTO Summit U.N on the democratisation
and restruction of the UN and
its institutions Conflicts Unlike most international
organisations, the Commonwealth is not only an association
of governments but also of peoples. Connections at non-governmental
involve professions in every field of human endeavour,
from information exchange, to technology transfer to
The Commonwealth is a world leader in championing human
rights. You are all aware of the major role the Commonwealth
played in contributing to the democratisation of Zimbabwe,
Namibia and South Africa.
The Milbrook Programme of Action (1995) based on the
Harare Principles (1991) was another advance in the
common Commonwealth efforts to promote and defend fundamental
The programme is in three parts
1. Advancing Commonwealth Fundamental values
2. Promoting sustainable development
3. Facilitating consensus building
Today I would like to outline one aspect of the first
part, Measures in Response to Violations of the Harare
1. Where a member country is perceived to be clearly
in violation of the Harare Declaration, and particularly
in the event of an unconstitutional overthrow of a democratically
elected government, appropriate steps should be taken
to express the collective concern of the Commonwealth
countries and to encourage the restoration of democracy
within a reasonable time frame. These include Immediate
public expression by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth's
collective disapproval of
any such infringement of the Harare principles.
Pending restoration of democracy, exclusion of the
government concerned from participation at ministerial-
level meetings of the Commonwealth, including CHOGM.
Suspension of participation at all Commonwealth meetings
and of Commonwealth technical assistance if acceptable
progress is not recorded by the government concerned
after a period of two years.
Consideration of appropriate further bilateral and
multilateral measures by all member states (e.g.
limitation of government to government contacts; people
to people measures; trade restrictions; and, in
exceptional cases suspension from the organisation)
to reinforce the need for change in the event that the
government concerned chooses to leave the Commonwealth
and/or persists in violating the principles of the Harare
Deceleration even after two years.
The Secretary General of the Commonwealth, HE Chief
Anyaoku, in a letter to all members of the Commonwealth
on 13 October 1999 said " a military coup has occurred
in Pakistan. Since the time of the Milbrook Action Programme,
the Commonwealth has consolidated its view that there
is no place for military regimes in the Association.
As such there would be no question of the representative
of a military regime in Pakistan participating in the
Durban CHOGM. The Secretary General has convened a meeting
of the Commonwealth Ministerial
Action Group for 18 October 1999 to consider the developments
in Pakistan. Parallel events
Parallel events will take place prior to CHOGM. These
1. The Commonwealth Business Forum, 9 - 11 November
1999, that will be officially opened by President Mbeki.
This is a major international business event bringing
together government and business leaders to promote
trade and investment. The theme is "Making Globalisation
Work: Economic Advances with Social Developments".
In Addition 15 Heads of Government and 13 Senior ministers
and over 60 Chief Executives will address the meeting.
The Forum Programme will include : Trade and investment
opportunities in major countries and emerging markets
in the Commonwealth Challenges and prospects for long
term investment in
Africa Mobilising investment in the Commonwealth : capital
markets, private equity flows and domestic savings Managing
business for global competition : corporate governance,
competition policies and strategies, a good environment
for business and investment Preparing for a new round
of multilateral trade negotiations. Trade and investment
in sectors such as banking and financial services, telecommunications,
energy, transport, tourism, commodities, construction
and engineering, micro-credit and e-commerce2. The Commonwealth
NGO Forum, 6 - 8 November 1999, coordinated by the Commonwealth
Foundation and the South Africa National NGO Coalition
(SANGOCO). The theme of
The Forum is "The People's Future: Citizens and
Governance in the new Millennium".
3. The Commonwealth Children's Summit, 10 - 15 November
1999. Jointly hosted by the National Children's Rights
Committee and UNICEF. Over 200 children from the
Commonwealth will attend this Summit.
4. The Commonwealth Youth Forum, 2 - 8 November 1999,
organised by the Commonwealth Youth Programme in partnership
with the South African Youth Council. The theme is "Youth
Challenges into the new Millenium".
5. An interactive Science and Technology exhibition,
8 - 15 November 1999.
As you can see the hosting of this meeting therefore
presents South Africa with unique short and long term
opportunities to showcase our country to the 1,7 billion
people in 54 Commonwealth countries. It will be an excellent
opportunity to expose the world to our second term of
democracy and the various advances and challenges. It
will also expose South Africans to the rich political
and economic, technological, cultural strengths and
diversity of the Commonwealth family. There are potentially
enormous spin-offs which could result from marketing
South Africa as a world class tourist
destination, and this will obviously add value to our
continuing efforts of growing the economy and creating
more jobs through attracting tourists to our country.