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Global issue 12

commonwealth network Th e Long View Setting an agenda for the future In 1991, amid the turbulent events that marked the last decade of the 20th century, Commonwealth heads of government convened in Zimbabwe for their biennial summit. The resultant Harare Declaration was to set the Commonwealth on a new course, writesStuart Mole, one that would place greater emphasis on the association’s fundamental principles of democracy and human rights The bomb exploded in the early hours of a key position in the forthcoming negotia- the Commonwealth. These included the suc- 20 July, slightly injuring three people and tions for a post-apartheid South Africa. cessful negotiations leading to the birth of an causing extensive damage to three fl oors of Despite the ever-present shadow of terror- independent Zimbabwe – and the continuing the Harare Sheraton Hotel. ism, it was clear that Commonwealth leaders fi ght against apartheid in South Africa. With the 12th Commonwealth Heads of were now facing a very different world from His successor, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Government Meeting (CHOGM) due to that of two years before. Shortly after the 1989 joined the Commonwealth Secretariat in take place in the adjacent International Con- Kuala Lumpur CHOGM, the Berlin Wall 1966, a year after its creation. Apart from ference Centre in three months time, many crumbled, bringing with it the whole gigantic a brief spell as Foreign Minister of a demo- were alarmed. In the UK, John Major, the cratic Nigeria (before being ousted by a new prime minister, feared for the Queen’s From these discussions military coup), he served continuously in safety. She was due to visit Zimbabwe short- the Secretariat, rising to be Sonny Ram- ly before the summit. However, she fi rmly emerged a summary of the phal’s deputy. He had become increas- resisted any suggestion that her state visit ingly sensitive to those who charged the might be cancelled – as head of the Com- association’s core values Commonwealth with double standards. monwealth, she felt her duty was clear. with particular emphasis campaigning for human rights in Southern“Of proclaiming the democratic ideal andWhile the CIA suspected Iraq, Zimba- bwean offi cials saw the hand of South Af- placed on democracy and Africa while at the same time turning a Harare many times in recent years. Apart- human rights ranks,” as he put it. It was something he re-blind eye to failings and abuses in our own rica in the bombing. The regime had struck heid would again be high on the summit’s solved to tackle. agenda, a debate that would be dramatised edifi ce of Cold War confl ict and rivalry. Anyaoku was helped in this task by the by the presence in Harare of Nelson Man- In any case, the meeting marked the clos- decision of Commonwealth leaders, at dela. Since his release from prison, he had ing stages of Sir Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ram- the 1989 Malaysian summit, to embark assumed the presidency of the African phal’s fi nal term as Secretary-General. His on a major review of the modern Com- National Congress (ANC). Possessing im- spirited leadership, over 15 years, had seen monwealth. This ten-strong High Level mense personal authority, he would hold major campaigns that had lifted the profi le of Appraisal Group (HLAG), chaired by the A warm invitation for a new friend The Commonwealth’s Very Special Guest his news: “Mandela is here – you have to fi nd turned to his aide. He had travelled to Harare him a place.” Not possible, came the reply. No as invited – but what should he do now? A room; against protocol – and, anyway, the heads puzzled assistant cautiously ran her eye over the are about to sit down. Turning on his heel, Anson summit’s offi cial programme. There seemed to plunged into the reception, found the Queen’s be a banquet that night – hosted by the Queen. private secretary, Sir Robert Fellowes, and the And so it was, some hours later, that the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka president of the African National Congress Anyaoku. Together they sought out the Queen emerged from a rather battered private car on and Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen’s response the steps of the State Guest House in Harare. was immediate. Of course, Mr Mandela must Resplendent in one of his colourful, open-necked come to dinner, directing that he should be shirts, Nelson Mandela strode purposively seated next to her – in the place of honour. towards the Commonwealth’s most exclusive of Four years later, Mandela was able to return social events – The Queen’s Banquet for Heads South Africa was poised for momentous change. the compliment. After the elections of 1994, he of Government. Little over a year before, he had The arrival of Mandela outside the banquet had become the president of a new, non-racial shown similar determination in walking through caused consternation among palace offi cials. South Africa. At his invitation, the Queen and the gates of Victor-Verster prison in Paarl – a free Charles Anson, the Queen’s press secretary, Prince Philip paid a state visit to South Africa. It man after 27 years in jail. Only a few years before aghast that a social and political disaster was the fi rst time the Queen had set foot in the that, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher loomed, raced up the backstairs as Mandela country since 1947. Years later, Mandela spoke had described the ANC as a “typical terrorist made more measured progress up the main warmly of “my friend Elizabeth” – a friendship organisation”. Now, with Mandela as its centre, staircase. Finding a colleague, Anson blurted out fi rst kindled over dinner in Harare. 78 lwww.global-briefing.org fourth quarter 2012global


Global issue 12
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