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CHOGM is a vote of confidence in Uganda

By Vision Reporter

Added 21st November 2007 03:00 AM

THE summit is here. The Queen arrived on Wednesday, and the heads of government start arriving on Thursday. Uganda is in the international spotlight. This was unimaginable in the 1970s and early 1980s. Uganda then was in the news for the wrong reasons: It was notorious for human rights abuses, state

THE summit is here. The Queen arrived on Wednesday, and the heads of government start arriving on Thursday. Uganda is in the international spotlight. This was unimaginable in the 1970s and early 1980s. Uganda then was in the news for the wrong reasons: It was notorious for human rights abuses, state-inspired violence and a collapsed economy.

That CHOGM and over 50 heads of state are here is testimony that Uganda has moved from the prodigal son or lost sheep status of the pre-1986 period to re-join the club of civilised nations. The summit would not be here if we were not observing the minimum standards that define the mission of the Commonwealth. Therefore, the meeting is a vote of confidence in the country’s leaders and all citizens. It means the government has fulfilled its obligations to the international community.

These obligations include prevention of state-inspired murder or disappearance of individuals; arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions; torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment; systematic racial and gender discrimination; or a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally-recognised human rights.

A state which practices or condones the above practices as a matter of policy is in violation of international law and would not be allowed to host such an important meeting.

One may say that Uganda hosted the OAU summit in 1976. But that was OAU and in the 20th century, and both are no more. The AU which replaced OAU would not sit in a country similar to the 1970s Uganda. For example, Sudan was denied the AU chair recently because of its human rights record.

Therefore, any country that hosts CHOGM deserves a pat on the back by everybody, including the sceptics. Of course Uganda is still a developing country, with many shortcomings and challenges such as infrastructure, IT, quality education and corruption. But any doubting Thomases that may be left must admit that Uganda is on the path to progress.

CHOGM is a vote of confidence in Uganda

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