The Commonwealth and Zimbabwe: Resetting the Compass

Commonwealth conferences often seem to be dominated by the misdeeds of whatever member is in the spotlight at the time. With democracy and development the focus it could be Zimbabwe, or even Sri Lanka, this time. The alternative course would be real progress on world trade and poverty.

The World Today Published 1 December 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 5 minute READ

James Mayall

Commonwealth summits are notoriously difficult to predict. They are intended to review work over the previous two years and set the agenda for future cooperation. But events have a tendency to cut across the best laid plans.

The 1995 Auckland summit should have been a celebration of the Commonwealth commitment to democracy – it was the first attended by President Nelson Mandela following South Africa’s re-entry after a thirty five-year absence - but was hijacked by the Nigerian government’s judicial murder of Ken Sara-Wiwa.

Little else was discussed and, unsurprisingly, Nigeria had its membership suspended under the Millbrook Action Programme, which was hastily concocted to strengthen the 1991 Harare Declaration of Commonwealth principles.

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