The two-term Speaker is among 600 Parliamentarians and parliamentary officials at the Conference which officially opens on Monday 2nd September 2013 in South Africa.
The President of South Africa, His Excellency E. Jacob Zuma, the 2013 Vice-Patron of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), will address the Representatives of approximately 175 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures to discuss Commonwealth development issues and identify effective solutions to the challenges facing Commonwealth countries.
The discussions will include a debate on the new Charter of the Commonwealth, a statement of the organization’s fundamental principles which was agreed by Heads of Government and signed earlier this year by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth. The Queen is also the Patron of the CPA.
The four-day conference will be chaired by the Chairperson of South Africa’s National Council of Provinces, Hon. Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, MP, who is also this year’s President of the CPA.
Discussions will be held in the Sandton Convention Centre, as will two other parliamentary meetings which immediately precede it.
Speaker Martin will on 30th and 31st August, attend the 33rd Small Branches Conference for close to 75 Parliamentarians from Assemblies representing 500,000 people or fewer.
Delegates will discuss the advancement of parliamentary democracy and development in many of the world’s smallest states.
The 3rd Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Conference will then be held on 1st September to bring together approximately 100 women Parliamentarians who will consider issues around the theme “Engendering Democracy” to help raise the numbers of women elected to Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures and to assess policies to raise the economic and social status of all women.
The Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee, Rt. Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP, of the United Kingdom House of Commons, said the transnational nature of development issues today means Commonwealth MPs are turning to each other to identify policies which respond effectively to these phenomena.
“Commonwealth Parliamentarians are particularly well placed to discuss issues with each other and work towards solutions through having shared experiences and a common language and institutions. Through these inter-parliamentary discussions the Commonwealth seeks consensus amongst its member states which we hope will then turn into a global consensus,” he said.
As well as the Charter, Commonwealth MPs will discuss policy options for such other global issues as: reaching the Millennium Development goals by the 2015 target date, accessing rural land, sharing resource revenues, caring for an ageing population and separating powers between the different branches of government. The full agendas for all three conferences are attached.
The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, Hon. Alix Boyd Knights, MHA, Speaker of Dominica’s House of Assembly, said the CWP Conference will give female Parliamentarians an opportunity to exchange experiences in methods used around the Commonwealth to advance the political representation and economic status of women.
CPA Secretary-General Dr. William F. Shija said the Small Branches Conference will discuss such issues as the relationship between education and employment and the capacity of small states for ethical tax-raising.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is composed of the Parliaments and Legislatures in 52 of the 54 Commonwealth nations and their overseas territories.
It has a membership of close to 17,000 Members of national, state, provincial and territorial Assemblies.
The only Commonwealth country not currently in the CPA is Brunei, which does not have an elected Parliament. The CPA Branch in Fiji Islands is in abeyance as the South Pacific country does not currently have a democratically elected Parliament.