Abdication of Responsibility

The Commonwealth and Human Rights

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Heads of state of Commonwealth nations meet this month in Harare, Zimbabwe. Their gathering is an important opportunity to take tangible steps to recognize the importance of human rights in the member states and to commit the Commonwealth to an initiative that would significantly enhance its role in combatting human rights abuses. The membership of the Commonwealth is diverse in every respect, and an increased commitment to human rights would cut across the usual divides of region, economic system and political structure. Because a number of the Commonwealth nations are among the leading donor nations, such as Australia and Great Britain, or important regional forces, such as India and Kenya, the development of a Commonwealth human rights effort could have considerable impact.

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