President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for the pursuit of the fundamental principles and values that underpin the Commonwealth Charter to reflect the building of a just, inclusive and prosperity among Commonwealth countries.
President Akufo-Addo explained that the values of good governance, rule of law, protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms, promotion of international peace and security, as well as protection of the environment, must translate into “tangible and measurable outcomes to guarantee human security.”
Speaking at the opening of the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Accra on Wednesday, the President urged Commonwealth legislators to identify the “unique opportunity to reflect on the progress made in upholding the values and principles projected in the Commonwealth Charter since its adoption a decade ago.”
Narrating the hurdles across the democratic journeys of member states in the last 10 years, President Akufo-Addo said the challenges do not just put to test their commitment to the principles of the Charter, “but also call into question the effective application of these principles in responding to the needs and aspirations of citizens.”
Ensuring the concept of democracy becomes truly meaningful to the citizenry, he emphasised the need to remind themselves of the legitimacy of democracy and its capacity to produce tangible developmental outcomes, as well as create opportunities for individuals to explore, develop and realise their God-given potentials.
With the threats of terrorism and violent extremism resulting in recent attacks in countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, President Akufo-Addo called for a coordinated effort to combat terrorism through the enactment of legislation to prevent cross-border movement of illegal firearms and impose heavy sanctions on offenders.
On the environment, he said the planet is undergoing unprecedented environmental degradation in the wake of climate change and explained how issues of “environmental pollution, desertification, deforestation, global warming, flooding and other forms of degradation, continue to pose imminent threats to the very survival of the human race.”
President Akufo-Addo commended global advocacy towards the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and urged countries to invest in renewable energy infrastructure and set renewable energy targets to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.
He advocated for international cooperation through knowledge-sharing on appropriate technology and best practices amongst countries in support of various initiatives to strengthen global efforts for a sustainable future environment.
“Protecting the environment is not an option, it is an ethical imperative, which requires a profound shift in our collective mindset and behaviour,” the President stated.
He added, “We must act swiftly, decisively and inclusively, leaving no one behind in our pursuit of a sustainable and harmonious world that would cater for today and posterity.”
Strongly opposed to the “hegemonic acts” where bigger nations seek to subject their will on smaller nations, President Akufo-Addo called for the promotion of peace between nations and put an end to conflicts on an acceptable and established principles of international law” adding: “it is in everybody’s interest that this is done.”
He asked for the reversal of unconstitutional changes in government across Africa and urged, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Commonwealth to “join ECOWAS and the African Union in demanding the immediate, unconditional release from unjustifiable detention of the democratically elected President of Niger, H.E Mohammed Bazoum.
President Akufo-Addo also called on the Commonwealth to support the need for reforms in the United Nations and its Security Council, to make them more representative and reflective of contemporary realities.
He stressed that the “agreement of the European nations, who committed the barbaric and inhuman Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, to pay reparations to the descendants of the victims of exploitation, especially as the slave owners, unlike the slaves, were compensated when the trade was abolished.”
He was hopeful that the conference, will provide a solid platform for reflection on past achievements, engage in thoughtful discussions about present challenges, and chart a course towards realising the hopes and aspirations of citizens under the noble goals of the Charter.
The conference was on the theme: “Commonwealth Charter, 10 Years On: Values and Principles for Parliament to Uphold.”
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD