The fate of Fiji as a Commonwealth member as well as healthy, sustainable development, climate change and food security topped the agenda of the three- day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the Western Australian capital city of Perth.
Queen Elizabeth II officially opened CHOGM on Friday, during a spectacular 2 million U.S. dollars opening ceremony criticized for its floral representation of indigenous culture and overly " Olympic-style".
On Saturday, leaders and their representatives will turn to the Perth gardens of Kings Park where Gillard is expected to continue to tout the report by an Eminent Person's Group on the reform of the Commonwealth's structure, enabling the organization to preempt action against member states considered to be straying from the "values of the Commonwealth."
According to the Australian prime minister the reforms now mean that the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and its secretary-general can act earlier against countries "veering from the path of democracy, rule of law and human rights."
Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth after a military coup led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
The fate of Fiji remains a divisive issue in the Commonwealth as pacific neighbours sympathize with the island state's plight and a recent survey by Australian think tank The Lowy Institute found that 53 percent of Fijians want the military to have a permanent role in politics and a further 61 percent believe Commodore Frank Bainimarama is listening to his people.
Other Commonwealth states led by powerbrokers Australia, Britain and Canada want CHOGM to install a Commonwealth human rights commissioner as well as a Commonwealth charter which puts in writing the values upheld by all 54 members.
But there is resistance to both moves with many smaller states unhappy with the one-way discussion process of the Commonwealth
According to The Gambia's Yahya Jammeh, the Commonwealth is in fact not negotiating at all, but insisting on behalf of the larger states.
The president said, "Instead of negotiating with you the Commonwealth has a tendency to come and say how you should do things, and say that we have our own standards and you should do it our way. To put it bluntly because I'm not a diplomat, I think the Commonwealth is often guilty of hypocrisy and double standards. "
When asked what smaller countries can do to set the agenda at future CHOGM events, President Jammeh said there must be more appreciation for the needs of the organization's more vulnerable nations.
"I feel that within the Commonwealth family the smaller countries suffer from this. However I believe that it is not a question of smaller countries setting the agenda, rather it is a question of us as the Commonwealth, as a family, setting an agenda that focuses on the most vulnerable amongst us. However the reality is that he who pays the piper calls the tune," he said.