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Commonwealth Charter


80 ORGANIZATIONS IN THE CARIBBEAN, AFRICA, ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
WANT TO STRENGTHEN THE DRAFT COMMONWEALTH CHARTER

The Commonwealth Secretariat invited comments and feedback on the draft Charter of the Commonwealth. Member countries were expected to carry out consultations with civil society at the country on the draft Charter. Unfortunately, as far as we are aware, consultations have not taken place in the global south regions of the Commonwealth. After becoming aware of this and the imminent deadline for submissions to the Commonwealth Secretariat, regional organisations from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific got together to prepare a brief comment on the seemingly most glaring deficiency of the draft Charter from an equality and human-rights based perspective, the very limited non-discrimination provision which is contained in clause 11 of the draft Charter. Seventy-seven organisations from Commonwealth member and prospective member states in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific signed on to the brief submission below.

______________________________________________________________________________

Submission by civil society organizations on the Draft Charter of the Commonwealth

We, the undersigned, welcome the resolution to draft the Commonwealth Charter as a commitment to initiate a framework ensuring institutional accountability and compliance amongst the Commonwealth nations. We also welcome the call by the Commonwealth Secretariat inviting comments and feedback on the draft Charter of the Commonwealth.

It is encouraging that the draft Charter believes “in universal human rights and that they are applicable to all persons throughout the Commonwealth in accordance with the principles of international law”. However, as organisations committed to the realisation of human rights of all peoples we would like to propose the following:

– While noting the values and aspiration as outlined in the Charter we believe that their achievement and implementation should be underpinned by the principles of equality and non-discrimination between states and its peoples. Thus, we propose that the preamble include principles of equality and non-discrimination in respecting, promoting, protecting and fulfilling human rights of all peoples, as underlining principles of the Charter.

– We welcome that the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under clause 11 is not exhaustive. However, the list in the present formulation of the draft charter is far too limited and it should be expanded to include the following grounds which are related to the most egregious forms of discrimination and are significant factors in the Commonwealth societies: colour, sex, birth, parenthood, language, national or social origin, the status of migrant, refuge and displaced persons, nationality, economic status, association with a national minority, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, disability, health status, genetic or other predisposition towards illness, or a combination of any of these grounds resulting in multiple and cumulative forms of discrimination, or on the basis of characteristics associated with any of these grounds. We also propose that clause 11 contain clear prohibition of discrimination when it is based on the association of a person with other persons to whom the prohibited ground applies or the perception, whether accurate or otherwise, of a person having a characteristic associated with a prohibited ground.

– Mindful of the recognition accorded to the role and functions of the civil society, we stress the importance for representative and inclusive participation of civil society towards meaningful engagement in the achievement and implementation of the values and aspirations enshrined in the Charter.

It is timely that the Commonwealth nations move towards actual realisation and implementation of human rights without delay to ensure equal and sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations and to place the well-being, livelihood and welfare of the peoples at the centre of the Commonwealth values and aspirations. The Charter will be an important document for achieving this and every effort is encouraged to ensure it will be a comprehensive process, with the capacity to address the full range of human rights promotion and protection as well as the shared history and aspirations of the nations and peoples of the Commonwealth.

African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR)

Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM)

Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS)

Caribbean Sex Work Coalition

Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC)

Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)

Fahamu

Insular Southeast Asia Network (ISEAN)

International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific)

Naz Foundation International

Pacific Sexual Diversity Network (PSDN)

Adhikaar – India

Africa Youth Coalition Against Hunger Sierra Leone

Alliance Against AIDS – Belize

Alternative Law Forum – India

Artistes In Direct Support – Guyana

Artists for Recognition and Acceptance (AFRA) – Kenya

BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights – Nigeria

Bedayaa Organization for LGBTQI in the Nile Valley Area – Sudan

Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council

Butakoola Village Association for Development (BUVAD) – Uganda

Cameroonian Foundation For AIDS (CAMFAIDS)

(Caribbean HIV/AIDS Partnership) CHAP Dominica Chapter of the Commonwealth of Dominica

Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights – Ghana

Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) – Malawi

Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law – Uganda

Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) – Trinidad and Tobago

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative – India

Commonwealth Youth Association of Cameroon (CYAC)

Diverse Youth Movement (DIYOME) – Guyana

Dominica National Council of Women

Dream Support International – Kenya

Drodrolagi Movement – Fiji

Economic Justice Network Sierra Leone

EMPOWER India

Equal Ground – Sri Lanka

Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago

Foundation for Future Christian Workers International – Ghana

Freedom and Roam – Uganda

Friends for Life – Trinidad and Tobago

Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya

Gender DynamiX (GDX) – South Africa

Guyana Community Life Competence

Guyana RainBow Foundation (GuyBow)

Guyana Sex Work Coalition

Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples

House of Rainbow – Nigeria

Ishtar-MSM – Kenya

Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG)

Juncata Juvant Friendly Society – Guyana

Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS) – Malaysia

Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo)

Livelihood Empowerment Foundation – Accra

Meeting Emotional and Social Needs Holistically (MESH) – Antigua and Barbuda

Network of AIDS Service Organizations Kampala (NASOKA) – Uganda

Northern Youth Network Malawi

People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) – South Africa

Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS) – Malaysia

PT Foundation – Malaysia

Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS) – Malaysia

Rainbow Women’s Network – Fiji

Rural-Urban Women and Children Development Agency (RUWACDA) – Ghana

Samoa LGBTI Advocacy Group

Sayoni – Singapore

Seventh Day Adventist Kinship – Kenya

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) – Uganda

Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) – Guyana

Society Against STIs & HIV in the Bahamas (SASH Bahamas)

The Initiative for Equal Rights – Nigeria

Tonga Leitis’ Association (TLA)

Udada Milele – Kenya

Uganda Harm Reduction Network

UHAI-the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative – Kenya

United and Strong – St. Lucia

United Belize Advocacy Movement

Vincy CHAP – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Vision Spring Initiatives – Nigeria

Women Against Rape – Antigua and Barbuda

Women’s Action for Change (WAC)Fiji

Women Working with Women – Kenya

Youth Harvest Foundation – Ghana

2 Comments »

  1. I THINK IS AN IMPORTANT ONE EVERY MEMBER COUNTRY. PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHT AND ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE SHOULD BE PART OF CHARTER. WE DO APPRECIATE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS FOR THEIR HARD TO MAKE IT A REALITY. OUR COMMON WEALTH LEADERS SHOULD STOP DISCRIMINATING OTHER UNDER DEVELOPING NATIONS OF THEIR RIGHTS AND SHOULD HELP PROMOTE SOUND GOOD GOVERNANCE.

    Comment by Africa Youth Coalition Against Hunger Sierra Leone/ Economic Justice Network Sierra Leone — 31 March, 2012 @ 16:40 | Reply

  2. I THINK IS AN IMPORTANT FOR EVERY MEMBER COUNTRY. PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHT AND ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE SHOULD BE PART OF THE CHARTER. WE DO APPRECIATE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS FOR THEIR HARD WORK TO MAKE IT A REALITY. OUR COMMONWEALTH LEADERS SHOULD STOP DISCRIMINATING THE UNDER DEVELOPING NATIONS OF THEIR RIGHTS AND THAT THE SHOULD HELP PROMOTE SOUND GOOD GOVERNANCE.

    Comment by Africa Youth Coalition Against Hunger Sierra Leone/ Economic Justice Network Sierra Leone — 31 March, 2012 @ 16:49 | Reply


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