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1991 - Mr Major’s Comments on the Harare Declaration

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the Harare Declaration, made in an interview in Harare on Monday 21st October 1991.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what the minimum Commonwealth countries need to do to meet the Harare Declaration requirements].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think if you examine the declaration you will see it sets out a series of principles on human rights, on democracy, on good government in all its aspects. And by good government I mean one man one vote, a proper democracy, sound administration, we set out all the matters we mean in the declaration. What the Commonwealth is saying is those are the principles upon which we should operate and we must all move in that direction to the extent that we are not already there.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked why reference was not made to multi-party democracies in the Harare Declaration and if was a serious weakness].

PRIME MINISTER:

I do not think so, that is the general way in which the whole drift of democracy is going, it has been so increasingly across the world. The remarkable events one is seeing in Eastern Europe at the moment is a case in point and I think one has seen it in other parts of the world. The trend is inevitably going in one direction now, the Commonwealth is swimming with the tide of that tread.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked that if countries without a multi-party democracy might feel they have already met the requirements of the Declaration].

PRIME MINISTER:

The Commonwealth will come back and it will examine whether its members are actually meeting the commitments they have agreed to this week and that is something we will do no doubt when we meet on future occasions.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if sanctions would be taken against countries].

PRIME MINISTER:

You are a long way down the road before you fine whether that circumstance occurs. The Commonwealth have collectively decided upon the Declaration without being pressed, without being pushed, without huge horrible rows, have agreed that that is the direction in which the Commonwealth should go. When the Commonwealth meets in future I am sure it will consider how far it has achieved its own principles and if people are not achieving its own principles then the Commonwealth will decide how to act. But I think to produce pre-emptive, prescriptive ideas of what might happen in some unforeseen circumstances in the future is not a helpful way to proceed now.