Ambassador Fritz Poku On The Rule Of Law
Over the weekend Ambassador Fritz Poku, Ghana's envoy to the United States, on the occasion of the International Rule of Law symposium held in Washington D.C, hosted the American Bar Association (ABA-Africa) at the Chancery.
In his presentation, the Ambassador made the following welcoming remarks;
Your Lordships, Chief Justices here present, Your Excellencies, My Learned Friends, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am particularly pleased to welcome you all to the Embassy of Ghana and, in collaboration with the American Bar Association (ABA-Africa), to host this reception in honor of the African participants attending the International Rule of Law Symposium which has just ended. Even though a lawyer myself, I regret that I was unable to participate in the Symposium owing to other very pressing matters of state. I have however, been following the brain storming discussions that you have pursued.
I am informed that the Symposium explored linkages between the Rule of Law and a number of urgent global issues, such as international security, poverty, corruption and pandemics. The unique gathering of lawyers from government, NGOs and the private sector that the Symposium assembled deployed efforts to define the agenda of promoting the Rule of Law in the coming decade and beyond, an order of business that holds great promise to profoundly impact our economic security and political interest in the future.
I particularly feel very proud and well grounded to play host to the African participants of this International Rule of law Symposium. As most of you would probably be aware, Ghana since its independence, almost half a century ago, has had a checkered history, punctuated by a period of authoritarian rule and five (5) military coups. Looking back, and considering where we are now, I can confidently say that we have, in a sense, come full circle. During the past decade, we embarked on constitutional and democratic rule anchored on the Rule of Law. We have learnt the hard way that the absence of the Rule of Law not only restricts freedoms and opportunities, but also engenders human rights abuses, corruption, poor governance and, above all, a culture of silence and impunity. This silence however is always the calm before the storm. For the absence of the Rule of Law inevitably leads to conflict and chaos as we once experienced.
This is why, especially since the coming into being of the current political dispensation under the leadership of President J.A. Kufuor, himself a lawyer, the Government has nailed its colors to the mast of the Rule of Law. Indeed Ghana has come to fully appreciate the incalculable benefits and the essence of the Rule of Law which is a prerequisite for national re-construction and development. The current government has respected separation of powers, due process, accountability, personal responsibility and, among others, supported institutions such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and the Serious Fraud Office. The Government has promulgated laws in order to make government procurement and financial appropriations transparent, whilst empowering the Auditor-General to ensure accountability. In a nutshell, Ghanaians have committed themselves to the principle that they should be ruled by “a government of laws and not of men.” The Rule of Law has therefore played no mean role in the renaissance of Ghana. For three (3) consecutive years our democratic credentials have earned Ghana eligibility for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) established by the US Administration for the benefit of countries that rule justly, invest in their people and empower their private sector. Ghana's credit worthiness has improved with a B+ credit rating from the prestigious Standard and Poor. It has been selected as one of the countries to benefit from 100% debt cancellation by the G-8. Proud of our democratic credentials and good governance, Ghana is the first country to have submitted itself for scrutiny by the African Peer Review Mechanism under the NEPAD.
The wind of change blowing over Ghana, bringing along with it the merits and virtues of the Rule of Law, has not confined itself to our country, but has spread to Africa like a wild fire. It has therefore become unacceptable and even unthinkable in Africa as a whole for any group, clique or party to accede to power through un-constitutional means in any form. Military coups have become a thing of the past. Indeed, in the Constitutive Acts of the African Union (AU) one of the entrenched principles is that a leader or government that unconstitutionally assumes power will not be admitted to the AU and indeed risks facing sanctions. Besides, no longer can countries hide behind their sovereignty to wreak havoc on their own people through abuse of human rights, genocide and crimes against humanity. For the AU, by the common agreement of all members, reserves the right to intervene in countries where there are massive abuse of human rights, genocide or crimes against humanity.
But Ghana and Africa have a long way to go in building human and institutional capacities that are needed for the promotion of the Rule of Law. This is why I find the participation of African Representatives in the just ended symposium very appropriate and opportune. Besides, with the delineation between local and global issues diminishing rapidly through globalization, and the tremendous impact of science and technology, there is no gain saying that international cooperation on guaranteeing the Rule of Law in the face of global threats and challenges has become imperative. Africa's unique and difficult circumstances do present difficult but not insurmountable challenges.
The Symposium, I believe, provided the opportunity to explore the diverse facets of the concept of the Rule of Law from which, I trust, you have all gathered knowledge, experience and expertise to take to the various countries you represent. Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to His Lordship Justice Kingsley Acquah, the Chief Justice of Ghana, whose presence here I acknowledge, and who, since his swearing in, has embarked on a crusade to ensure a disciplined and efficient Judicial Service to enable it play the role assigned to it by the Constitution in the promotion of the Rule of Law.
Your Lordships, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is on this note that I wish you, once again, a hearty welcome to the premises of the Ghana Embassy. Please have an enjoyable evening.