Commonwealth Law Ministers End Landmark Meeting in Sydney

By The Commonwealth Secretariat, PRNE
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

SYDNEY, July 14, 2011 -


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

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

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: href="">

For media enquiries, contact Manoah Esipisu, Deputy Spokesperson
on +44(0)789-446-2021 and


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