New Delhi: India is set to oppose a move by a group of Commonwealth countries to set up a monitoring mechanism for members on human rights at a meeting of the Heads of Government in Perth beginning Friday which will be attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari.

Ansari, who will be attending the summit in place of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will leave for Perth past midnight on Wednesday.

Besides issues related to economic and social development, food and energy security, the CHOGM is also expected to deliberate on the recommedations of an 11-member Eminent Persons Group for sharpening the impact, strengthening the networks and raising the profile of the Commonwealth.
   
These recommendations also include a proposal setting up a monitoring group for democracy, rule of law and human rights.
   
"The responsibilities spelt out in this would seem to undermine the role of both the Secretary General and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) itself which is actually dealing precisely with these issues," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters here.
   
Making it clear that India had reservations on this, he said the proposal was a "duplication of what the United Nations is already doing through its rappoteurs and at a time when the organisation was facing budgetary difficulties". Mathai said he had flagged the issue at a meeting of officials in New York.
   
"The real focus of the Commonwealth should be on the development challenges which are uppermost on the minds of a vast majority of members. While we support the important values of the rule of law, democracy and human rights, we believe the Commonwealth should focus on strengthening existing institutions rather than create new ones," he said.

The CHOGM will also consider a proposal for re-election of India's Kamalesh Sharma as the Secretary General of the organisation.
   
To a question on the rethink on Sri Lanka being allowed to host the CHOGM in 2013, Mathai said "a decision was taken in 2009 for the next two CHOGMs. That matter has been decided and does not need to be reopened."
   
On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's absence from the Summit, he cited a string of bilateral visits he has to undertake around the same time.
   
"It is not correct. The impression is unfortunate," Mathai said when asked about some reports in Australian media that suggested that Singh's absence from the CHOGM summit was a failure on part of Australia to build a strong relationship with India.
   
"The Prime Minister has heavy engagements," he said.   

Singh has to be in Cannes next week for the G20 Summit followed by the SAARC Summit in Maldives on November 11-12 and the East Asia Summit in Indonesia on November 17. This will be followed by a visit to Singapore.
   
"In our system, the Vice President holds a position of great importance. He is second in the warrant of precedence," he said, adding Ansari has "a vast experience in international relations".
   
Ansari will also hold talks with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard during which the issue of uranium exports to India may also come up. Asked whether the CHOGM is relevant in the current times, Mathai said the grouping has emerged as a "one-stop-shop" for many member-nations to access a variety of assistance in areas such as technical advice, financial support, consultancies.
   
CHOGM takes place against the backdrop of challenges like the global financial crisis and the focus of the deliberations would be on building resilience in member-nations, particularly small states, to tackle the situation.
   
The official theme for CHOGM 2011 is 'Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience'.    
A joint communique spelling out the position of the Commonwealth on major issues will be adopted at the end of the summit. A stand-alone Declaration on Food Security Principles is also expected to be negotiated and adopted.
    
They will also discuss the Commonwealth's engagement with the G-20, climate change and sustainable development and initiatives to deal with the concerns of the youth and women.
   
The Commonwealth Day theme - 'Women as Agents of Change' - is significant as the Commonwealth's first woman Chair-in-Office Kamla Persad-Bissesar, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, will hand over the baton to another woman Julia Gillard.

(Agencies)