Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference gets off ground
The Sri Lankan branch delegate’s entitlement is increased this year with eight delegates, one executive committee member, one CWP member, one branch secretary and one regional secretary given the opportunity to take part in the 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference that will be held at the BMICH, Colombo from today to September 15.
The branch leaders will make contributions at the workshops which deal with a variety of topics arranged on September 12 providing delegates with opportunities for detailed discussions.
The Executive Committee Meeting, the Meeting of the CPA Working Party, the Conference of Small Branches, the Meeting of the Steering Committee of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) and Society of Clerks-at-the-Table (SOCATT) Meetings are also included in the schedule.
The opening ceremony will take place at Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Performing Arts Theatre under President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s patronage on September 11 at 9.30am.
Deputy Speaker and 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference Organising Committee chairman Chandima Weerakkody said most participants for the conference will arrive in the country today while some delegates have already arrived.
He said this is a great opportunity for Sri Lanka to show to Commonwealth countries and the world the new air the country breaths.
Weerakkody said security arrangements have been made on the direction of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
The Deputy Speaker said 53 countries have confirmed participation while 179 branches have also confirmed participation.
The topics at the conference are: Workshop A - ‘Empowering Future Generations through Access to Health and Education and Vocational Training’, workshop B – ‘Should the Commonwealth Establish a Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human rights?’, workshop C ‘The Politics of Constitution – Making the Role of Parliaments in Relation to the People’, workshop D – ‘Ensuring Adequate Parliamentary Scrutiny of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’, workshop E - ‘The Role of Parliamentarians in Conflict Resolution and Peace Building’, workshop F - ‘Engaging Political Parties to Improve Gender-responsive Governance’, workshop G – ‘Terrorism – The Threat to Democracy, Peace and Security’ and workshop H – ‘Tackling Youth Unemployment’. The CPA Sri Lanka branch is responsible for providing the discussion leaders for workshops A and C. There will be a final plenary session on ‘The Role of Social Media in Modern-day Politics’.
‘Ensuring a Relevant Commonwealth for the Future’ is the theme of this year’s CPA Conference The event will bring together around 850 participants: delegates, parliamentary officials, observers representing parliaments and legislative assemblies of the Commonwealth nations, states, provinces and territories representing 185 branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in 54 Commonwealth countries.
Global and national policy makers and other dignitaries will also take part in the event.
This will be the biggest event to be held in Sri Lanka since the three-decade terrorism was eradicated in 2009.
The conference will help to convince members of the Commonwealth of the fact that the CPA values are safeguarded and will set the background for Sri Lanka to hold the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Chairperson of the Executive Committee and member of the UK House of Commons Sir Alan Haselhurst will address the gathering at the ceremony.
This is the third time that Sri Lanka will host the conference.
Previous CPA Conferences have been held in Colombo in 1974 and 1995. The arrangements of the 58th CPA will be carried out under the guidance of the Speaker and CPA chairman Chamal Rajapaksa and the organising committee, chaired by Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody. Around 16 sub-committees have also been established to look into various aspects of the conference.
The conference participants are also free to tour anywhere in the country, including the North and East where they will be able to experience the post-war development process firsthand.
From September 7 to 15
Theme - ‘Ensuring a Relevant Commonwealth for the Future’
Around 850 participants representing 185 CPA branches
Fifty four Commonwealth countries
Source: Daily News (7th September 2012)
Ruwini JAYAWARDANA and Sandasen MARASINGHE