Strengthening Commonwealth Principles at Harare

The Harare Declaration pledges the Commonwealth and member countries ‘to work with renewed vigour’ in the following areas:

  • protecting and promoting the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values, including democracy, democratic processes and institutions which reflect national circumstances, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government and fundamental human rights
  • equality for women
  • universal access to education
  • ending apartheid and building a new South Africa
  • promoting sustainable development and alleviating poverty
  • extending the benefit of development within a human rights framework
  • protecting the environment
  • combating drug abuse and trafficking, and communicable diseases
  • helping small states with their economic and security concerns
  • promoting peace, disarmament and effective arms control.

Since 1971, the Declaration of Commonwealth Principles from Singapore, reinforced and extended at Harare, has been the moral framework for co-operative action by Heads of Government. It underpins the technical assistance and other programmes of the Commonwealth Secretariat, and also many of the Commonwealth civil society organisations

While the Harare Declaration was not intended to be a legally binding document, adherence to its principles is now considered a prerequisite of membership for countries aspiring to join the Commonwealth. In the next section of this unit, we provide a basic summary of these principles, and reflect on their place within principles and values around the world.