NZ elected to commonwealth watchdog group

21:38, Feb 17 2009

New Zealand has been elected to the Commonwealth watchdog group, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced.

Miss Clark said New Zealand had been elected on to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (Cmag), at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) summit in Kampala, Uganda.

"Cmag was established at the Chogm in New Zealand in 1995, as the Commonwealth's watchdog for democracy and governance. New Zealand was a founding member of the group, but stepped aside in 1999 when New Zealander Don McKinnon was elected as Commonwealth Secretary-General," Miss Clark said from Uganda.

"Cmag provides a mechanism for dealing with Commonwealth member states which contravene the core obligations of Commonwealth membership, in particular the 1991 Harare Declaration which reaffirmed the principles of good governance," she said.

"The 1995 Chogm also established measures which Cmag could take in response to violations of the Harare principles, in particular where there has been an unconstitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government.

" New Zealand regards it as important for Cmag to maintain the high standards of governance agreed to by Commonwealth members, and believes they must be applied consistently across different members and regions," she said.

"New Zealand wishes to see the Commonwealth sustain the international community's united approach to Fiji, and we also support the clear message that has been sent to Pakistan, regarding the need to restore constitutional government."

Other members of Cmag are Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, St Lucia, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Ghana, and Namibia.