Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina shakes hands with Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland while British Prime Minister Theresa May looks on during the Commonwealth summit in London yesterday. Photo: PMO
LONDON, Apr 19: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday called for a comprehensive reform of the Commonwealth to achieve the desired goals and meet constantly evolving needs and expectations of the member states, suggesting formation of a group comprising eminent persons to this end, reports UNB. “We recommend formation of an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to undertake a comprehensive reform of Commonwealth,” she said while delivering her speech at the first executive session of the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Lancaster House here. The Prime Minister also called for reorientation and reorganisation of the roles and functions of various Commonwealth bodies. “The roles and functions of various Commonwealth bodies need reorientation and reorganisationto meet the constantly evolving needs and expectations of the member states,” she said. She underscored the need for revitalisation of the Commonwealth Secretariat through a comprehensive reform to achieve the goals identified in this CHOGM. Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh closely follows the proactive measures and initiatives she has undertaken to help member states foster the values of the Commonwealth. She noted with appreciation the Strategic Plan 2020-21 of the Commonwealth Secretariat in line of the objectives with the Charter and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Lauding the Secretariat for developing an annual delivery plan, the Prime Minister said the move should be considered as a beginning and part of the broader and comprehensive reform of the Commonwealth to make it more people- and development-centric one. She suggested that the Secretariat should continue to intensify its focus on development issues, capacity building, technology transfer, aid for trade and investment related issues. Besides, the Secretariat should design action plans to implement the Commonwealth declarations on connectivity, cyber security and governance, as well as blue charter, Hasina said. Noting that the role of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) is sensitive while dealing with delicate country situations, she said it needs to be objective having comprehensive understanding of the situations it is dealing with in the spirit of Commonwealth consensus. The Prime Minister said upholding democracy, good governance and the rule of law are the cherished aims and these are also the basis for sustainable peace and stability. She expressed her belief that a positive engagement for supporting development of the institutions of democracy and good governance, rather than a punitive approach, is the best way to protect democracy, peace and stability in the Commonwealth member countries. Hasina also hoped that the Commonwealth would focus on result-oriented efforts in their work in the next two years centring more on trade, economic and sustainable development and practical challenges faced by majority of the member countries. She expressed optimism that the 25th CHOGM can help the association take a leap forward in realising the vision and shared responsibility for a poverty-free, progressive, prosperous, vibrant and visionary Commonwealth of nations for the future generations.