Dec 8, 2008, 5:43 AM
"The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an intergovernmental organisation in which countries with diverse social, political and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status."
This was said by honourable Sulayman Joof, the National Assembly Member for Serrekunda West constituency and chairman of the National Assembly Select Committee on Education and Training.
He added that the Commonwealth, previously called the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of 54 independent member states, all but two of which were a former part of the British Empire.
The Gambian lawmaker was presenting a paper on "the history and development of commonwealth," over the weekend at the National Assembly Chamber during activities marking the commemoration of Commonwealth Day.
Hon. Joof pointed out that Commonwealth states co-operate within a framework of common values and goals as outlined in the Singapore Declaration.
These, he said, includes the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law, individual liberty, free trade, multi-lateralism and world peace.
The Commonwealth is a forum for a number of non-governmental organisations, collectively known as the Commonwealth Family, which are fostered through the intergovernmental Commonwealth Foundation.
He further noted that the Commonwealth Games are the Commonwealth's most visible activity, which strengthens the shared culture of the Commonwealth extending through common sports, literary heritage, and political and legal practices.
"While not all current members were once British colonies, the Commonwealth is generally considered to be the successor to the British Empire," he stated.
The Serrekunda West NAM maintained that the formal organisation of the Commonwealth developed from the Imperial Conferences, where the independence of the self-governing colonies, and especially of dominions was recognised.
According to the Chairman of the Education and Training Committee of the National Assembly, they are committed to democracy, good governance, human rights, gender equality, and a more equitable sharing of the benefits of globalisation.
Officially declaring the commemoration open, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon Abdoulie Bojang recalled that 8 March each year is Commonwealth Day.
Commonwealth heads of state set the day aside and urged governmens to enable all the diverse peoples of the Commonwealth to reflect on the ideals and values of the Commonwealth.
"It is not only an occasion to celebrate in fan-fare, but also a moment to take stock of ourselves as governments and peoples of the Commonwealth of nations; to assess and evaluate our achievements, as against targets we set for ourselves in democracy, global peace and security, economic development; human security, the rule of law and justice for our peoples and all other peoples of the world," he said
"As we commemorate Commonwealth Day 2010, our theme this year is "Science, Technology and Society."
"While we appreciate the need for us as peoples' representatives to prepare our peoples and countries in embracing and harnessing the benefits of ICT, science and technology; it is equally prudent for us to make conscious efforts, aimed at curtailing the vices from ICT, science and technology, and protect our economies and peoples from the harm and evils of science and technology, for example, cyber crime, terrorism and money laundering, to name a few," he added.