Commonwealth must ensure peoples’ well being - GL
“The Commonwealth is a voluntary organization of sovereign states, it
cannot be used by a few countries to impose their will on others or to
interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries, Minister of
External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris said yesterday.
He also said that Commonwealth must serve a practical purpose and not
endless discussions about theoretical issues and added that the public
in all 54 countries were looking forward to delivery on ground.
He said that Commonwealth was a people centric organization and
should be an instrument to ensure humanity and people’s well being.
The minister speaking to the media at the BMICH where Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association sessions are being held said the UN has
specialized agencies to deal with various issues and the Commonwealth
was not like that.
“We should understand what kind of an organization the Commonwealth
is. There are some people in the process of trying to make the
Commonwealth relevant to the present age by trying to develop this
institution in a way similar to the United Nations”.
“Commonwealth is not the UN, there is a fundamental difference
between two. The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of sovereign
states, there is no constitution, and there are no binding obligations.
It is a voluntary organization that is based on tradition and custom.”
The Commonwealth, the minister said was based on some values and one
was the right of a country to determine its policy in accordance with
the wishes of its people and in accordance with its own cultural
traditions and societal background structures. “We have to recognize the
separate identity of each country and recognize the dignity, sovereignty
of each country. Each country has its own particular culture which
cannot be submerged. Each country is proud of its own tradition, he
Speaking on the current deliberations at the CPA, the minister said
there has been a strong focus on the economic aspect of things and added
that it derives from a deep conviction among all the Commonwealth
countries at the moment that the Commonwealth must serve a practical
purpose and not engage in endless discussions about theoretical issues.
“Commonwealth must be an instrument to humanity. Public in all 54
countries are looking forward to delivery on the ground. That is why
focus has been on issues that has a direct impact on the wellbeing of
the people. Because commonwealth is a peoples centric organization. So
the well being of the people at large is the main objective of the
Commonwealth” the Minister noted.
He said that this was why there has been a strong emphasis on health,
education, aging population, vocational training, poverty alleviation,
gender based discrimination and to breakdown the divide between urban
and rural cultures, during this year’s CPA conference in Colombo. He
also added that that the CPA has also focused its attention on ensuring
that the fruits of economic development are equitably distributed and
preservation of environment is of paramount importance.
The minister said the time is running out and patience is not
infinite and added that this was why people are demanding action on the
ground rather than endless contemplation of principles, policies and
Speaking on the CPA and its relevance to the country in the current
era he said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had made a passionate
appeal to delegates at the opening of the CPA, not to be misguided and
look for themselves at the enormous development that has taken place in
the country in the short span of three years.
He said the delegates were also able to witness the successful
conduct of elections for three Provincial Councils, a sign of a vibrant