Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers MeetingApprox Read Time: 4 min
- At the 20th Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting (CFAMM) held virtually, India slammed Pakistan for misusing the forum to pursue its own ill-conceived agenda.
- The 20th Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting (CFAMM) took place recently in a first ever virtual meeting.
- During the meeting, Foreign Ministers discussed Commonwealth responses to the COVID19 pandemic and mutual aid and support in dealing with its impact.
- They also addressed climate change and preparations for next year’s COP26 meeting to be held in Glasgow, UK.
Comments by India at the meeting:
- Today, as the world grapples with the economic and social fallout of the Covid 19 pandemic, the values and core principles of Commonwealth become more relevant than ever.
- India has already demonstrated that it can be a reliable partner for the world.
- Despite being severely impacted, India kept its supply chains open during this pandemic and supplied medicines and equipment to more than 150 countries. This has only added to India’s reputation as the “pharmacy to the world”.
- India (which accounts for 60% of global vaccine production) has already committed its vaccine production and delivery capacity to help the world in fighting this crisis.
- In keeping with the commitment made by the Prime Minister of India in 2018 to Commonwealth, India has opened a ‘Commonwealth Sub Window’ (of US$ 50 Million).
- The ‘Commonwealth Sub Window’ is to provide grant-in-aid assistance to Commonwealth members for projects related to SDG implementation and Climate Action.
- In the first year of its existence, the Fund has approved a total of 11 projects in 9 Commonwealth countries.
- India is assisting seven Pacific Island countries with developing a climate early warning system.
Pakistan used the forum to complain against India:
- Pakistani side made a statement without naming India, that “a state in South Asia is targeting its religious minority groups in order to foment division and hatred amongst community groups”.
India’s curt response to Pakistan:
- In response to Pakistan’s comments, India slammed it for misusing the forum to pursue its own ill-conceived and unilateral agenda on a multilateral platform.
- An Indian official referred to Pakistan without naming it called it for hypocritically preaching about religious minority groups elsewhere while “trampling itself upon the rights of its own indigenous minorities.”
- He referred to Pakistan as “a globally acknowledged promoter of state-sponsored terrorism”. He also reminded that Pakistan hosts the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the United Nations, and referred to it as the “epicenter of terrorism”.
- He referred to the events leading to formation of Bangladesh, calling Pakistan the “country that brought genocide to South Asia 49 years back when it killed its own people”.
- The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, mostly former territories of the British Empire.
- It is home to 2.4 billion people, and includes both advanced economies and developing countries.
- The Commonwealth dates back to the first half of the 20th century with the decolonisation of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories.
- It was originally created as the British Commonwealth of Nations through the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, and formalised by the United Kingdom through the Statute of Westminster in 1931.
- The current Commonwealth of Nations was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949, which modernised the community and established the member states as “free and equal”.
Structure of Commonwealth:
- The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation , which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states.
- The human symbol of this free association is the Head of the Commonwealth, currently Queen Elizabeth II, and the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting appointed Charles, Prince of Wales to be her designated successor, although the position is not technically hereditary.
- The Queen is the head of state of 16 member states, known as the Commonwealth realms, while 32 other members are republics and five others have different monarchs.
- Member states have no legal obligations to one another, but are connected through their use of the English language and historical ties.
- The Commonwealth Secretariat, established in 1965, is the main intergovernmental agency of the Commonwealth, facilitating consultation and co-operation among member governments and countries.
- The Commonwealth of Nations is represented in the United Nations General Assembly by the secretariat as an observer.
- The secretariat organises Commonwealth summits, meetings of ministers, consultative meetings and technical discussions; it assists policy development and provides policy advice, and facilitates multilateral communication among the member governments.
- It also provides technical assistance to help governments in the social and economic development of their countries and in support of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values.
Charter of the Commonwealth:
- The Charter of the Commonwealth is a charter setting out the values of the Commonwealth of Nations as well as the commitment of its member states to various values.
- It was proposed at the 2011 CHOGM in Perth, Australia, adopted in 2012 and officially signed by Queen Elizabeth II, on the Commonwealth Day on 11 March 2013.
- A total of sixteen core beliefs are drawn up in the charter, namely, democracy, human rights, international peace and security, tolerance, respect and understanding, freedom of expression, separation of powers, rule of law, good governance, sustainable development, protecting the environment, access to health, education, food and shelter, gender equality, importance of young people in the Commonwealth, recognition of the needs of the small states, recognition of the needs of the vulnerable states, and lastly, the role of civil society.