Commonwealth Summit Ends In Kampala, Uganda

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
November 25, 2007 (CUOPM)

St. Kitts and Nevis‘ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas is among leaders of Commonwealth nations returning home on Sunday following the conclusion of the summit in the Ugandan capital Kampala which ended without binding environmental commitments being reached.

The 16 presidents, 20 prime ministers and 12 delegates from the 53-member bloc of English-speaking countries discussed a range of issues during the three-day meet including environment, governance and human rights.

A resolution reached on the environment, and dubbed the “‘Lake Victoria Declaration on Climate Change,”’ was intended as a follow-up to the Langkawi Declaration on the Environment, issued in 1989 during a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Langkawi, Malaysia.

In the new declaration, the leaders however toned down their stand, saying that measures to control environmental degradation should not compromise development strategies drawn out by individual countries.“‘We firmly believe that no strategy or actions to deal with climate change should have the effect of depriving developing countries of the possibility of sustainable economic development,”’ according to the resolution.

On the contrary, measures to tackle the impact of climate change should support the positive economic and social transformation of societies.

The leaders called for support for improved land use management, including conservation and sustainable use of forest resources.

Commonwealth leaders justifying their stance said that progress on the implementation of environmental programmes by individual countries was slow.

“‘It is easy to say that the declaration on the environment was not binding but you should know that this is a step-by-step move,” outgoing Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon told reporters.

“‘Slowly, countries will take it up. Many countries are unprepared but we will eventually cross the bridge.”

The declaration on the environment did not feature in the joint communiqué released at the end of the summit late Sunday afternoon.

In the communiqué , the heads of state said that they were committed to the observation of democracy, good governance and human rights, stopping genocide, combating corruption and to “the fuller integration in the global trading regime of low income states”’ through the elimination of export subsidies.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II Friday opened the meeting of the Commonwealth, of which she is titular head. She flew back to London Saturday.

Absent from Uganda” largest-ever international gathering were representatives from Fiji, which was suspended from the bloc in December 2006 after a military takeover.

Also absent was Pakistan, which was suspended from the Commonwealth for the second time over the weekend because of imposition of martial rule by President Pervez Musharraf.

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