Human Rights for the Commonwealth

Flag of the Commonwealth

Flag of the Commonwealth

So, the Queen today signed the new Commonwealth Charter, which for the first time in its 64 years history sets out a common vision, values and aims for the organisation, which represents one third of the world’s population.

The document includes the following:

“We are committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights covenants and international instruments. We are committed to equality and respect for the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, for all without discrimination on any grounds as the foundations of peaceful, just and stable societies. We note that these rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and cannot be implemented selectively.

“We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender,
race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.”

Note, in particular, the commitment to “other relevant human rights covenants” and that human rights “cannot be implemented selectively”. Doesn’t that undermine rather the recent statements from UK Government Ministers about wanting to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights? Or perhaps the plan is to withdraw from the Commonwealth altogether as well?

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