Commonwealth members meet in Cayman

New programmes to assist parliamentarians in contributing effectively to the new Commonwealth Charter will be proposed at a major meeting of Commonwealth Members of Parliament this week in the Cayman Islands. 

Parliamentarians meeting as the executive committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will examine holding a pan-Commonwealth parliamentary debate on the Charter of Commonwealth values. The charter was signed Monday by Her Majesty, The Queen of England as head of the Commonwealth.  

The group will also consider adding new programmes to the association’s existing services to strengthen parliamentary democracy. 

The association executive committee is scheduled to meet from 18 to 21 March, hosted by the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly. 

“In 1964, the far-thinking members of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly, took the decision to become a part of this global organisation we call the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association,” said Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence. “Since that time on an annual basis, numerous benefits have accrued to these islands in the form of training opportunities for our legislators, both at the regional and global level, exposure to new thoughts and ideas, and participation in formulating policy and change which emphasises the further development of democratic principles and good governance both here and abroad.” 

The meeting in the Cayman Islands will also set the agenda for the 59th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, to be hosted by the parliament of South Africa in late August in Johannesburg. The committee will consider whether to hold a pan-Commonwealth debate on the charter at the Conference, which is to be held a few months before the next Commonwealth heads of government meeting. 

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Secretary-General William F. Shija said the committee, composed of members of parliament representing close to 185 Commonwealth parliaments and legislatures, will also consider new proposals for other association services for MPs.  

A seminar with the International Monetary Fund on parliamentary oversight of financial and economic policy is to be considered, as is a possible workshop on women’s leadership in enterprise linked to the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting in June in Bangladesh. Also on the agenda is a proposed briefing session for MPs on cybersecurity issues to be held in Cameroon with the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. 

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is composed of the parliaments and legislatures in 52 of the 54 Commonwealth nations and their overseas territories. It has a membership of close to 17,000 Members of national, state, provincial and territorial assemblies. The only Commonwealth country not currently in the association is Brunei, which does not have an elected parliament. The association branch in the Fiji Islands is in abeyance as the South Pacific country is currently ruled by a military government. 

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