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VIEW FROM THE CHAIR


STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY THROUGH THE CPA


I write this on my return from this year’s 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) which took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in September. Although the Annual Conference edition of The Parliamentarian will follow in December, I should like to take this early opportunity to express my gratitude to its host, the Speaker and the Parliament of Sri Lanka, the CPA Sri Lanka Branch and all others who were involved in organizing the conference. The event was extremely well run, with a staff of over 200 dedicated to it by the Parliament and government departments. I would also like to extend my thanks to those who


Government Meeting, also due to take place in Colombo, will be equally successful. From the CPA’s organizational perspective, too, CPC


gave up their time to attend and contribute to this highly eventful and productive meeting. In my opinion, the highlight of the week was the day of thematic workshops, covering a range of challenges facing the contemporary Commonwealth. Delegates and experts had the opportunity to debate and seek consensus on issues such as the Commonwealth Eminent Persons’ Group’s recommendation to appoint a Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights, ways to tackle youth unemployment and the role of Parliamentarians in conflict resolution and peace-building. Also extremely topical was the final plenary, which explored the phenomenon of social media and their impact on governance and Parliamentarians’ relationship with their constituents. It is evident that delegates attend this conference for a wide spectrum


Rt Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee and Member of the House of Commons, United Kingdom


was productive. All business meetings demonstrated Members’ commitment to the CPA and its ongoing modernization, with notable support for initiatives such as the establishment of the Commonwealth Democracy Forum as a fringe conference at Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings, a significant boost to Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, the establishment of a regular Commonwealth Youth Parliament in the CPA’s event roster and a resolution to the issue of the CPA’s status. On this last point, I am delighted that the General


Assembly approved the recommendations of the Working Party, and am very optimistic that further progress will be made at the Executive Committee’s next meeting which will be generously hosted by the Parliament of the Cayman Islands next year.


As we now return to our Parliaments and re-immerse ourselves in our day-to-


day legislative and representative duties, it seems a fitting point to turn our eyes to the happenings of the year to come before our next – 59th


– annual conference.


of reasons, all of equal import: whether to seek to learn from the specific experiences of other delegates, to build a network of Commonwealth colleagues with whom to share expertise on a continuing basis, or to engage with the host nation, Sri Lanka, and its parliamentary and governmental systems. My enduring impression from this CPC was that the expectations and


objectives of all who attended were met and, for many, exceeded. This gives me assurance that next year’s Commonwealth Heads of


156 | The Parliamentarian | 2012: Issue Three


This will be hosted by the Parliament of South Africa in Johannesburg in August- September 2013, and in the run-up to this event I greatly look forward to working more closely with the CPA’s new President, Hon. Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, MP, Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces of South Africa. Highlights over the next few months will include the 31st


Australian and Pacific Regional


Conference in the Cook Islands and the fifth Commonwealth Youth Parliament which is part of the CPA’s ongoing commitment to engage young people in the Commonwealth, parliamentary democracy and politics. Through these and our other activities, I hope that we shall continue to


succeed in our efforts towards our collective goal: to promote good governance and advance parliamentary democracy both at home and abroad.


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