–We stand today as a threshold of a great event both in life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind. This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere-
Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt speaking at the UN general Assembly as she submitted the UN Declaration
The Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), in partnership with the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA) and the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) received a grant from the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee to support a tour entitled “Magna Carta to Commonwealth Charter” celebrating the influence of Magna Carta throughout the Commonwealth. Malawi is one of seven landlocked Commonwealth countries, all of which are in Africa. Malawi has the lowest per capita income in the Commonwealth (2012), but its economy has grown substantially since the early 2000s. Malawi joined the commonwealth in 1964.
This exhibition is still ongoing and it traces the legal milestones from the sealing of the Magna Carta to the signing of the Commonwealth Charter by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, at Marlborough House in 2013. The exhibition notes exerts from Harare, and Singapore declarations together with the Latimer House Principles and notable cases related to these in order to develop a greater understanding of the contribution Magna Carta has made to legal development up to and including the Commonwealth Charter.
Magna Carta is Latin for the Great Charter, in the form of a set of ideas and a document. On the surface it is a piece of paper, an 800 year old pact that sought to prevent war between King John commonly known as Bad King John as he commonly known and twenty-five barons. The aim of the Magna Carta was not achieved as war was not prevented but the ideas embodied in the Magna Carta endure. The Magna Carta limited the power of the king guaranteeing the people certain rights and binding the king to the rule of law. Winston Churchill described the Magna Carta as the “the foundation of principles and systems of government of which neither King John nor his nobles dreamed.”
Magna Carta established the rule of law, laid the foundation for personal liberty, and continued a long journey of freedom which we enjoy till today. It is a set of principles and a reference point for our legal compass. Throughout the world Magna Carta has been invoked to protect economic rights, and it is the foundation of the ideas of justice and good governance and the rule of law and has inspired the drafters of many of the modern documents.
The exhibition of the Magna Carta in Malawi is accompanied by 6 panels bearing a background speech of the Magna Carta by 6 different law practitioners from across the globe; Mrs Patricia Mckellar, Joint General Secretary, CLEA, The Hon John Vertes, President of CMJA, The Hon Mrs Justice Norma Wade-Miller, Immediate Past president, CMJA, The Hon Justice Charles Mkandawire, CMJA Regional Vice President, East, Central and Southern Africa, Mr Tim Daniel, Former Executive Committee Member, CLA and Miss Ratha Lehall.