President Jacob Zuma has emphasised the need for the Commonwealth to focus on meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals targets, what needs to happen beyond 2015, and also financing the MDGs.
“Financing discussions are important. Deliberations on the development goals should bear in mind that countries have different starting points, national priorities and regional circumstances,” Zuma said in Johannesburg on Monday.
He opened the 59th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference underway at the Sandton Convention Centre. The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mninwa Mahlangu, is the current President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Delegates include leading parliamentarians throughout the Commonwealth countries, who discuss global political issues and developments in the parliamentary system. The theme for this year’s conference is “Effective Solutions to Commonwealth Developmental Challenges”.
Zuma said the need for the transfer of environmentally sound technologies as well as capacity building to ensure self-reliance among developing nations was also important.
“Only this will enable developing countries to meet their domestic development challenges.”
The President reiterated the need for parliamentarians to promote the deepening and strengthening of democracy. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association had an important role to play in the promotion of democracy.
Zuma called on delegates to “bear in mind” that democratic governance and its institutions such as Parliaments and Legislatures, were vital for good governance, human rights and the rule of law.
“Another role we see for Parliaments and Legislatures around the world is the promotion of peace and security. As parliamentarians, you play an oversight role and are able to scrutinize the work done by the executive in your respective countries, including matters of war and peace.”
He urged those attending the gathering to respect the United Nations as the only authority that can intervene militarily in any country, and only if all other avenues have been exhausted.
“We trust that there shall be no violation of international law or the abuse of the United Nations Security Council to fulfil the agenda of other nation states.”
Zuma also used the opportunity to call for peace in Egypt and also closer to home in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Peace and democracy must reign in every part of Africa and all over the world.
Parliamentarians across the Commonwealth needed to continue playing their role in promoting democracy, accountability and good governance and also in promoting peace and stability around the world.