Role of Commonwealth Parliamentarians and Parliaments in implementing the human rights agenda emphasised at launch of new report 

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Mr Akbar Khan has spoken of the key role of Commonwealth Parliamentarians and Parliaments in implementing the human rights agenda at the launch of a new report titled ‘The Global Human Rights Implementation Agenda: The role of National Parliaments’ alongside the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon. Baroness Patricia Scotland, QC. The report is published by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit in partnership with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the Universal Rights Group.

The CPA Secretary-General, Mr Akbar Khan said: “This publication, which recognises the longstanding collaboration of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Commonwealth Secretariat in the important area of building the capacity of national Parliaments in the implementation of human rights, is extremely timely as next month marks the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It is therefore very appropriate for us to take a moment to reflect on this significant milestone in the context of the role of our Commonwealth Parliaments as the natural ‘guardians’ of the universal human rights of Commonwealth citizens. It is very much the role of Parliamentarians and of Parliaments to step up as the key enablers of human rights and to act as a check and balance on the policies of the Executive. The important role of Parliament sitting as it does at the centre of a nation’s domestic and international affairs should not be overlooked or under-estimated.” To read the CPA Secretary-General’s full speech at the launch event please click here.*

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland, QC said: “Commonwealth Parliamentarians have a central part to play in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Commonwealth Secretariat has been actively involved in strengthening the role of Parliaments and Parliamentarians in the work of the Human Rights Council. Over recent years, in collaboration with a number of partners - including some who are here today – we here at the Commonwealth Secretariat have been working to build the capacity of Commonwealth Parliamentarians in the area of human rights. This publication documents our distinctive Commonwealth contributions to global efforts which strengthen such engagement, and towards deepening respect and protection of human rights, and the human dignity of all people without distinction.”

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has engaged in the global discourse on a strengthened role for Parliaments and Parliamentarians in the field of human rights for a number of years. Between 2013 and 2016, the CPA, in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat, convened regional capacity building seminars for Parliamentarians, aimed at strengthening their understanding of their role in the promotion and protection of human rights at the national, regional and international levels. These seminars led to the adoption of three regional declarations: The Mahé Declaration (Africa), the Kotte Declaration (Asia) and the Pipitea Declaration (Pacific). The declarations commit Parliamentarians from the African, Asian and Pacific Regions to active engagement with international and regional human rights mechanisms.

Further outcomes and indicators of impact include the establishment of regional Commonwealth Parliamentary human rights groups; the rise of Parliamentary champions who have championed specific human rights causes such as child, early and forced marriage, equality and non-discrimination, and closer links between national human rights commissions and Parliaments; and the establishment of parliamentary human rights caucuses in Kenya and Australia.

This new publication will map and analyse contemporary debates, decisions and initiatives focused on Parliamentary engagement with the global human rights mechanisms, and documents the contribution of the Commonwealth to global efforts to strengthen that engagement, thereby improving respect for human rights and human dignity of people.

*The CPA Secretary-General’s speech at the launch event will be published in the forthcoming issue of The Parliamentarian, the Journal of Commonwealth Parliaments which will focus on ‘human rights in the modern era’ to mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The publication will be available in late November/early December 2018 - please click here.

Images: Commonwealth Secretariat.


Updated 5 November 2018.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association connects, develops, promotes and supports Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and the implementation of the enduring values of the Commonwealth. The CPA is an international community of around 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures working together to deepen the Commonwealth’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance. 
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