Commonwealth Secretary-General lauds unanimous agreement on media principles

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Mauritius (Commonwealth Union)_Commonwealth Law Ministers have collectively decided to propose the “Commonwealth Principles on Freedom of Expression and the Role of the Media in Good Governance” to Commonwealth Leaders for consideration at the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Accordingly, Commonwealth Law Ministers gathered in Mauritius this week for the 2022 Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting. This is the first face-to-face conference of Law Ministers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, KC, welcomed the common consent and said: “I welcome the unanimous agreement of Law Ministers today to progress these principles for recommendation to Leaders at our next Heads of Government meeting. The indispensable role of the media, the 4th estate, in a modern democracy cannot be overstated. Our Commonwealth Charter affirms that freedom of expression, including media freedom, is essential to the flourishing of democratic societies and a basic condition for development. An important role of the Commonwealth is to help to build consensus amongst our members on the vital issues that they face”. She added: “By realizing the principles and objectives of our Charter across all Commonwealth nations, we will deliver political, economic and social systems and services that are robust, effective and fair, resulting in reduced demands on justice systems in the future.” 

thecommonwealth.org

According to the Secretary-General, the major purpose of the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting is to develop Commonwealth consensus and cooperation and to allow Law Ministers to establish clear directions on a variety of legal, rule of law, and justice issues of mutual importance to member nations. She further added that, according to the Commonwealth Charter, the Commonwealth is dedicated to peaceful, open conversation and the free flow of information, especially through a free and responsible media, and to building democratic traditions and improving democratic processes. During the latest discussions, the Law Ministers thanked the Commonwealth Accredited Organizations for their hard work, commitment, and immense contribution towards the creation of the Draft Principles. 

Additionally, they also appreciated the Expert Working Group, headed by a Jamaican representative, for their contributions towards reaching an agreement. Prior to this week’s meetings, Law Ministers received a paper on freedom of speech and the role played by the media in Commonwealth good governance. The diversified membership of the Commonwealth encompasses 56 nations and 2.5 billion people, as well as both developed and emerging economies. Commonwealth member nations have agreed to common objectives on development, democracy, and peace, and the Commonwealth Charter outlines its ideals and principles.

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