Introductory Remarks by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad at a Press Briefing on the Commonwealth Heads of State or Government Meeting

Introduction

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
NGO's 30
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, democracy
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" . The
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 and tuberculosis.

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.

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 organisations
involve professions in every field of human endeavour, from information exchange, to technology transfer to education.

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 values.

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 Principles
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 include

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.

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