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Meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers Nassau, The Bahamas 16 - 19 October 2017

The Honourable Attorney-General of Brunei Darussalam, Yang Berhormat Datin Seri Paduka Hjh Hayati binti Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Paduka Hj Mohd Salleh recently attended the Meeting of the Commonwealth Law Ministers held from 16 to 19 October 2017 in Nassau, The Bahamas. The Brunei delegation included officials from the Attorney General's Chambers.

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The Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting was opened by The Honourable Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and chaired by the Senator The Honourable Carl Wilshire Bethel QC, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs of The Bahamas. The theme for the meeting was 'Strengthening the Rule of Law through Technology'.

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The event brings together Law Ministers and Attorneys-Generals from the member states of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC was also in attendance. The Ministerial Meeting was preceded by the Senior Law Officials Meeting, which was held on 16 October 2017 which discussed a wide range of legal issues including the rule of law and sustainable development, climate change, countering violent extremism, international humanitarian law, and child, early and forced marriage. Discussions have also emphasised on the impact of advanced technology on these issues.

 

Other important discussions included the shift of focus in the work of Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting from mandate setting, to achieving consensus on global issues, which are also discussed by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The Commonwealth Law Ministers' meetings provides an opportunity to develop consensus for Commonwealth positions on key global issue.

 

The Secretary–General also took the opportunity to launch the Commonwealth Secretariat's website which is an online knowledge portal that will support member countries by providing access to the laws of all 52 member states. This website is one of a series of products from the Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform providing a database of statutes and Commonwealth Model Law.

 

In her opening remarks, the Secretary-General stressed the importance of technology in opening up "broad new horizons of opportunity, with greater efficiency, accountability and transparency." The Secretary-General also highlighted the importance of legislations in implementing international and national commitments to limit the rise of global temperatures and address climate change. She also referred to the upcoming  Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in 2018 with the theme "Towards a Common Future". She then urged delegates to "seize the potential and opportunity of Commonwealth connection, and build a fairer, more equitable, sustainable, inclusive and prosperous future for all."

 

The Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting is held once every 3 years. The scope and content of the agenda items for their meetings range from exchanges of experience and perspectives, to cooperation between Commonwealth countries, to approving model laws and giving direction for work in emerging areas of the law.  With the outcome of this meeting Commonwealth Law Ministers have further expanded its focus to discuss legal issues or initiatives of common interest that are related to global issues and consistent with mandate as set by CHOGM.

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