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Global issue 12

commonwealth network The Long View “It was important to chart a new course for the Commonwealth” IntErvIEw Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, 1990–2000 Recalling his first major summit as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku tellsGlobal about the opportunities and challenges facing the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Harare, his determination to give the association a new purpose and confidence and the impact of this groundbreaking declaration Global: The Harare Commonwealth Heads had been unhappy with aspects of the It was clear that if the Commonwealth was of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Commonwealth’s monitoring of the 1990 to help end apartheid, we now had to do 1991 was your first as Commonwealth Malaysian elections. How was that resolved? our utmost to assist the delicate process Secretary-General. What were your hopes It was precisely because he and I had had of negotiation and transition. That meant and expectations of the summit? to talk through a number of issues to do working with those like De Klerk and Chief Emeka Anyaoku: I shut myself off with the Observer team, as the elections Botha who now insisted that they too were for six months after my election as Secre- progressed, that I felt it necessary to have committed to dismantling apartheid. I per- tary-General at Kuala Lumpur in 1989, to clear, agreed guidelines for deploying Ob- suaded them that the Commonwealth’s di- think through my goals and what I wanted server missions. For example, the Com- versity could help in building confidence to achieve. With the end of the Cold War, monwealth could only observe elections at among their diverse populations. I also there were great opportunities and chal- the invitation of member governments and sent distinguished observers to the open- lenges. And there was criticism of the Com- with the full support of opposition parties. ing of negotiations and Commonwealth monwealth in sections of the media that It was also important to demonstrate the teams to help dowse the violence that while it championed democracy and ma- complete independence of observers by threatened the transition process. Com- jority rule in Southern Africa, it tolerated enabling them to see whoever they wished monwealth policing experts helped the military dictatorships and one-party states to see. I couldn’t change their reports as conversion of the South African police to within its membership. I therefore wanted Secretary-General – nor could govern- peacetime community policing. Mandela leaders in Harare to respond to these chang- ments. Harare made these ground rules has since told me that the Commonwealth es, reassess the Commonwealth’s priorities transparent and Dr Mahathir was fully made a hugely important contribution to and set the tone for the whole decade – and supportive in this process. the process of change. beyond. There were also momentous events afoot What was the lasting significance of the How central to what became known as in South Africa. The release of Nelson 1991 Commonwealth Harare Declaration? the Harare Declaration was the high-level Mandela in February 1990 had signalled The Harare Declaration, in building on the review which you inherited in the build-up the beginning of the end for apartheid. Singapore Declaration 20 years before, to CHOGM? Where did the Commonwealth fit in? clearly marked the Commonwealth out as I had encouraged the decision to launch The Commonwealth had played a major a values-based organisation, with democ- the review and worked closely with sen- role in the campaign against apartheid and racy, human rights and development at its ior officials preparing for Harare. It was we had even met Mandela in jail in 1986. core. The decisions of Harare reinvigorated important to chart a new course for the His long-awaited freedom was a vital step the association and gave it new purpose Commonwealth, especially in emphasis- in South Africa’s liberation. I was in close and confidence. The practical programmes ing democracy and human rights. But every touch thereafter – meeting him in Africa of democratic development we instituted summit has a unique chemistry, and it was and Europe – and was determined that he helped make military and one-party states the retreat discussion at Victoria Falls – should come to CHOGM to talk to Com- in the Commonwealth a thing of the past. with just heads of government and I monwealth leaders about how the Com- The establishment of the Commonwealth present – which, after the final negotiations, monwealth could best assist the process of Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) four gave birth to the Harare Declaration. change in South Africa. years later, in Auckland, New Zealand, as a mechanism for sustaining the Common- One of the outcomes of Harare was to At the end of the meeting, you immediately wealth’s values and dealing with violations, establish Commonwealth Election Observer left Harare to travel to South Africa, to open was a groundbreaking step. It was a logical missions as a regular part of Commonwealth a dialogue with State President De Klerk extension of what we did in Harare. programmes for strengthening democracy. and Pik Botha, the foreign minister. How Ironically, the chair of the review, Dr Mahathir difficult was it to find a way of working Interview by Stuart Mole Mohamad, the Malaysian prime minister, with the defenders of apartheid? 80 lwww.global-briefing.org fourth quarter 2012global


Global issue 12
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