CHRI makes regular submissions to CMAG drawing attention to breaches in Commonwealth values. CMAG was established in 1995 by the Commonwealth Heads of Government as part of the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Plan. CMAG is mandated to deal with serious or persistent violations by any Member State of fundamental political values of the Commonwealth set out in the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration. The Group was thus mandated to assess the nature of the infringement and recommend measures for collective Commonwealth action aimed at the speedy restoration of democracy and constitutional rule.
CMAG is convened by the Commonwealth Secretary General and is constitutes by foreign ministers of eight Commonwealth member countries and additionally, since 2003, the foreign minister of the Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office. It is reconstituted at every Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), with the ministers generally serving two terms. CMAG regularly meets twice every year and can convene on an ad hoc basis if required.
In 2009, the Heads of Government agreed that consideration be given to strengthening the role of CMAG in order to enable the group to deal with the full range of serious or persistent violations of the Harare Declaration. After reviewing its own mandate and working, CMAG presented its recommendations in the form of a report titled Strengthening the Role of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, at the 2011 CHOGM; and the Heads agreed with the recommendations in entirety. The core changes in its mandate identified CMAG as the custodian of the 2009 Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles (which is an update and strengthening of the Harare Declaration). In this capacity, CMAG must scrutinise member states in violation of Commonwealth values and not limit its role to examining situations where there has been an unconstitutional overthrow of the government. Despite this, to date, CMAG continues to interpret its mandate narrowly. Countries that have been under CMAG’s review are Gambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Solomon Islands, Zimbabwe, and Maldives. CMAG is currently reviewing the situation in Fiji Islands.