The first session of the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting 2022 (CLMM) was chaired today by the Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Maneesh Gobin, in the presence of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland KC, at the InterContinental Resort in Balaclava.
The CLMM is being hosted by the Attorney General’s Office from 22 to 25 November 2022. The primary objective is to advance Commonwealth consensus and cooperation and to enable Law Ministers to set clear directions on a range of legal, the rule of law and justice issues of mutual interest to member countries.
In his opening remarks, the Attorney General recalled that the CLMM was held in Mauritius in 1993 and that hosting the event in 2022 once again demonstrates the commitment of Mauritius to adhere to Commonwealth values and principles. Speaking at the previous CLMM held in Sri Lanka in 2019, he indicated that there had been significant changes with the Covid-19 pandemic in the legal and justice field.
In the face of these unprecedented challenges, he stated that it is becoming more than ever important for countries to work together and strengthen international cooperation so as to come up with concrete solutions. “The Commonwealth comprising 56 Member Countries is a force to reckon with when it comes to the rule of law and protection of human rights”, he said.
The main aim of the CLMM, he pointed out, is to reinforce cooperation among Member Countries and enable Law Ministers and Attorney Generals to discuss issues of mutual interests such as access to justice, courts of the future, law and climate change, mutual and legal assistance, and data protection.
Attorney General Gobin expressed optimism as regards the outcomes of the CLMM, achieving consensus on the discussions and said that he is looking forward to fruitful deliberations during the event.
For her part, Secretary-General Scotland highlighted that during the Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda held in June 2022, the Commonwealth Plan of Action on The Declaration on Access to Justice was adopted. This was an important achievement that advanced the work Law Ministers begun on access to justice in the Commonwealth and formed an important framework to direct the Secretariat’s work on the rule of law, she stated.
Speaking on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on health, governance, social and justice systems, she pointed out that democracy regressed by more than 30% across the world and courts were paralysed, thereby giving rise to social tensions. “Justice transformation, therefore, demands a re-imagining and resetting of our legal frameworks”, she said.
She also dwelt on the various achievements of the Commonwealth and its flagship programmes, including the Blue Charter, the Living Lands Charter, the Sustainable Energy Transitions agenda, and the Climate Finance Access Hub.
The Secretary-General is hopeful that the theme paper to be presented by the hosts will build on the importance of international cooperation in advancing the rule of law and the protection of human rights. The Commonwealth Secretariat, she added, will showcase some of the works accomplished at the request of Law Ministers in various areas, including contracts, climate change and anti-corruption.
In addition, she underlined that Law Ministers would also receive a paper on freedom of expression as well as the media’s role in good governance. The resources developed by the Secretariat with its partners are useful in the development of solutions for legal problems, she said.
The meeting, she indicated, is an opportunity to craft a new legal settlement for the Commonwealth; transform justice systems in the wake of new challenges; enable efficient delivery of swift, fair, effective and principled justice; and strengthen the relationship between the work of Law Ministers, and the Commonwealth to realise the values and aspirations of our Charter.