SYDNEY, July 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Ministers and attorneys-general give Commonwealth Secretariat new roadmap and programme of work for the rule of law
Law ministers and attorneys-general from the 54-member Commonwealth have ended a four-day meeting in the Australian port city of Sydney, calling for greater action to deal with climate change, forced marriages and cyber-crime.
The triennial meeting of law ministers and attorneys-general, the largest meeting of its kind within the international legal community, was convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat and hosted by Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Home Affairs and Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor.
Ministers and attorneys-general said climate change was a threat to human security and to some Commonwealth member states. It threatened the progress of development by reducing access to drinking water and caused desertification, putting agriculture and direct means of subsistence at risk, they added.
"The Commonwealth should offer assistance to small developing states in particular in raising awareness of climate change and its impact, and taking adaptation measures to lessen inevitable impacts," they said in a communiqué.
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, closing the meeting, said she was delighted to see that ministers had sought practical solutions to common challenges.
"It is fitting that this meeting, and rightly so, recognised that there is a greater role for law ministers in tackling climate change, among other things, through consideration of a new legal architecture with regard to displaced migrant populations, co-operation between member states, as well as assessment of the adequacy of legal frameworks applicable to displaced persons," she said.
Ministers and attorneys-general encouraged countries to consider ratification of outstanding weapons-related treaties and to incorporate provisions of those treaties into domestic laws.
Ministers said forced and servile marriages constituted a human rights violation. They said prevention of many forced marriages required active co-operation between states because they had a transnational quality.
They said cyber-crime posed a significant threat to national security and law enforcement in all Commonwealth countries. They called for greater action to combat it.
On cyber-crime, Mrs Masire-Mwamba said: "Cyber-crime is a global problem and no single country can tackle it alone."
Ministers and attorneys-general also discussed mutual legal assistance in the areas of international law, strategies to combat corruption, rights and pre-trial procedures required for police and prison authorities, over-crowding in jails, how to support victims of crime, prosecution disclosure obligations, obligations under the International Criminal Court, and human rights.
They also discussed capacity-building for legislative drafters - a niche area on constitutional building that faces a shortage of lawyers.
Law ministers and attorneys-general used the meeting to give further strategic direction and focus to strengthen the Commonwealth Secretariat's Rule of Law programme by identifying clear deadlines and deliverables for projects to meet the needs of member states.
As part of the meeting, young lawyers from the Pacific discussed the challenges they face in the legal profession and to promote youth mainstreaming in the region. It was the first time an event for young people has been held as part of the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting (CLMM) programme.
At a special event to celebrate women in leadership on the margins of the meeting, Australia Human Rights Commission President Catherine Branson urged governments to do more to promote gender equality and equity. The event was hosted by New South Wales Governor Marie Bashir.
For Mrs Masire-Mwamba's closing speech, visit: http://www.thecommonwealth.org/speech/181889/34293/35178/238291/clmm_closing_statement.htm
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SOURCE The Commonwealth Secretariat