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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 14:52 GMT
Commonwealth head Don McKinnon quizzed

The secretary-general of the Commonwealth, Don McKinnon, answered your questions in a live Forum on Commonwealth Day.

Mr McKinnon has been at the helm of the 54-nation institution for nearly a year. He says he wants the Commonwealth to help its members prosper economically, particularly with initiatives for debt relief and technical assistance.

He is also a supporter of the "good governance" programmes of his institution, such as support for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

But when its members fall foul of these high ideals the Commonwealth has no real powers to react. It can cajole and censure, but not punish. It can ask and plead, but not demand.

With such disparate members, often at loggerheads with one another, is the Commonwealth just a relic of the British empire, or does it have a role to play in the 21st century?


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