PERTH, Australia - Commonwealth nations on Saturday agreed to develop a charter outlining the 54-nation bloc's common values, but failed to establish a human rights watchdog.
World leaders attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting agreed there should be a charter of values for the group, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is hosting the meeting in Perth, said.
"The charter will be finalized in 2012 and it will bring together the Commonwealth values, principles and aspirations in one clear and powerful statement," she said.
But a recommendation from the body tasked with making the Commonwealth more relevant, the Eminent Persons Group, that a commissioner for democracy, human rights and the rule of law be established, failed to win consensus.
"Australia and a number of delegations indicated that they were supportive of this proposal," Gillard said.
"But there were a number of delegations concerned by it and the Commonwealth is an organization that involves consensus in its decision making."
The issue of human rights has generated much heat for CHOGM, with the next meeting to be held in Sri Lanka, a country which has been accused of violating human rights and war crimes during the end stages of its civil war.
Gillard refused to comment on which member states had been uneasy with the proposal, but said concerns had included the possible overlap between a commissioner, the body's secretary general and its ministerial advisory group.
"To address these concerns, leaders agreed that the secretary general and the Commonwealth Ministerial Advisory Group should further evaluate this proposal and report back," she said.
Gillard said that leaders also discussed climate change in the lead up to international talks in South Africa late next month on the issue.
"We agreed to advocate for legally binding outcomes on emissions reductions," she said, adding that members also recognized the importance of markets in maximizing global emissions reductions at the least possible cost.
Leaders also agreed to a statement on food security which stresses the importance of reducing barriers to trade in agricultural production and making it easier for farmers in developing countries to grow food. (AFP)