The 53-strong CommonWEALTH nations with a combined population of 2.2 billion, comprising one-third of humanity with a projected trade of US$2.75 trillion by 2030, is well placed to drive this development.
A project to record the oral history of the commonwealth (www.commonwealthoralhistories.org) clearly shows the significant role that Commonwealth’s leaders have played in destroying Aparthied – a system of legally-enforced racial segregation implemented and upheld by the National Party in South Africa from 1948-1994.
The Commonwealth can play an equally important role in contributing to world peace today.
We all agree that extraordinary events in the world today requires extraordinary measures. One area of the world where extraordinary measures are required is the Middle East.
The matter of the state-less Palestine remains an unresolved, burning issue and the source, perhaps one of the root causes, of instability in the region. Yet Palestine, a former British colony, shares a common language and history with Commonwealth States. It is time that the voluntary organisation making up 53 member states reach out to the 54th State – an action that could certainly change the course of history.
The Commonwealth can be a force for peace. The Commonwealth should reach out to Palestine and offer a platform, a home, and a community in which issues can be discussed and resolved. It is one thing to be poor and homeless. But to be stateless is a tragedy. Resolution of conflict through rational negotiations is a preferred to war and terrorism.
Membership in the Commonwealth of Nations requires all its members, old and new, to abide by certain political principles, including democracy and respect for human rights, according to the Harare principles. And although Palestine may not yet qualify, the Commonwealth of Nations could implement an innovative, interim vehicle that could be established to facilitate progress along these lines. Indeed, the Commonwealth has demonstrated some level of flexibility and innovation when it facilitated the 1995 accession of Mozambique, which at the time, was the only member that was never part of the British Empire. Mozambique’s membership was made possible by the Edinburgh criteria. Perhaps it is time to make an extraordinary exception to Palestine.
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