Cayman Takes Lead Role
New programmes to strengthen the capacity of Parliamentarians to contribute effectively to the new Commonwealth Charter will be proposed at a major meeting of Commonwealth Members of Parliament next week in the Cayman Islands.
The Parliamentarians, meeting as the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), will examine holding a pan-Commonwealth parliamentary debate on the Charter of Commonwealth values signed on Monday by Her Majesty The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. It will also consider adding new programmes to the CPA's existing services to strengthen parliamentary democracy.
The CPA Executive Committee is to meet from 18 to 21 March, hosted by the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly, it was announced today by Hon. Mary Lawrence, MBE, JP, Speaker of the Legislature, and by the Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee, Rt. Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP, of the United Kingdom.
"In 1964 the far-thinking members of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly, took the decision to become a part of this global organization we call the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association," Hon. Lawrence said.
"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," she noted.
"As President of the local Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, together with the Honourable Premier, I take great pleasure in welcoming this august Committee of the International Body of the CPA to our beautiful islands, and look forward to their deliberations which will chart the course for continued growth of parliamentary democracy throughout the Commonwealth," Hon Lawrence concluded.
Premier Hon. Juliana O'Connor Connolly, JP, said, "As the Caribbean and Americas Representative of the CPA Executive Committee (ExCo), I'm delighted to meet here in the Cayman Islands for our mid-year ExCo meeting and I look forward to productive meetings . As Premier, I welcome all of the delegation and I also take this opportunity to showcase our beautiful islands."
"This will be an important opportunity for Commonwealth Parliamentarians to contribute direct to the implementation of the new Commonwealth Charter and to ensure that their governments fully adhere to the values that now officially bind them together," said Sir Alan. The Charter commits all Commonwealth governments to uphold the principles of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights and the rule of law, among others.
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.
CPA Secretary-General Dr William F. Shija said the Committee, composed of MPs representing close to 185 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures, will also consider new proposals for other CPA 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 cyber security issues to be held in Cameroon with the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
These events would be added to the Association's extensive agenda of meetings and electronic and paper publications to share good governance practices among the assemblies of the 54-nation Commonwealth as part of the international organization's democratic commitment.
The two CPA leaders applauded the Cayman Islands for enabling the 35-Member Committee to meet in its capital, George Town, as guests of its Legislative Assembly and government. The Islands, a British Overseas Territory located in the western Caribbean, has a population of approximately 55,000 people. Its Legislature became a Branch of the CPA in 1964 and previously hosted the CPA Executive Committee meeting in 1992.
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 CPA is Brunei, which does not have an elected Parliament. The CPA Branch in Fiji Islands is in abeyance as the South Pacific country is currently ruled by a military government.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE CPA, PLEASE CONTACT:
Dr William F. Shija, Secretary-General
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Secretariat
Suite 700, Westminster House, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA, United Kingdom
Phone: 44-20-7799-1460 Email: CPA Secretariat Fax: 44-20-7222-6073.
For further information contact: Bina Mani