Commonwealth leaders release CHOGM 2011 Communiqué
13. To welcome the interest shown by the Government of South Sudan in joining the Commonwealth, and to request the Commonwealth Secretariat to pursue the established procedures in this regard.
30 October 2011
Commonwealth Heads of Government met in Perth, Australia, from 28 to 30 October 2011, under the theme ‘Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience’. Reflecting on the unique nature of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association which brings together 54 developing and developed nations from six continents, Heads reaffirmed their commitment to the values and principles of the Commonwealth and agreed to a series of actions to maintain the Commonwealth’s relevance, to ensure its effectiveness in responding to contemporary global challenges and to build resilient societies and economies. Given the significant challenges facing the global economy, Heads emphasised the importance of the international community working cooperatively to secure a sustainable global recovery. Heads highlighted the importance of a strong response to these challenges to provide the necessary confidence to global markets.
Heads welcomed the report of the Eminent Persons Group, ‘A Commonwealth of the People: Time for Urgent Reform’, and thanked members of the Group for their outstanding work. They agreed that the report provided a strong basis to revitalise the Commonwealth and its institutions and ensure its continued relevance to member states and their people – today and in the future.
To this end, Heads agreed to the following:
1. Reform of the Commonwealth to ensure that it is a more effective institution, responsive to members’ needs, and capable of tackling the significant global challenges of the 21st century.
a) the reform of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG);
b) consideration of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) recommendations on reform;
c) strengthening the management and delivery of Commonwealth programmes, including through regular review of their efficiency, effectiveness and results, against measurable indicators;
d) to this end, focusing delivery of practical assistance to members through greater prioritisation and alignment of programmes to members’ priorities on the basis of Commonwealth comparative advantage and, where necessary, retiring programmes that do not meet these criteria; and
e) undertaking associated reform of the Commonwealth Secretariat and ensuring the adequacy of resources and their appropriate use to enable it to deliver on its agreed mandates.
2. To actively promote, uphold, preserve and defend the fundamental values, principles and aspirations of the Commonwealth. Heads agreed to do this by:
a) agreeing to the recommendations of CMAG to strengthen the role of CMAG, in order to enable the Group to deal with the full range of serious or persistent violations of Commonwealth values;
b) resolving that the composition of CMAG for the next biennium should be as follows: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Jamaica, Maldives, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu.
c) agreeing that there should be a “Charter of the Commonwealth”, as proposed by the Eminent Persons Group, embodying the principles contained in previous declarations, drawn together in a single, consolidated document that is not legally binding.
d) Heads will agree to a text for the Charter in 2012, following a process of national consultations, consideration by a Task Force of Ministers drawn from all geographical groupings of the Commonwealth, and a full meeting of Foreign Ministers in New York in September;
e) tasking the Secretary-General and CMAG to further evaluate relevant options relating to the EPG’s proposal for a Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights and to report back to Foreign Ministers at their September meeting in New York;
f) noting that the EPG’s recommendations relating to CMAG were consistent with the CMAG reforms adopted by Heads at this meeting;
g) responding to the remaining EPG recommendations as follows
i. adopting without reservation 30 recommendations;
ii. adopting, subject to consideration of financial implications, 12 further recommendations;
iii. asking the Task Force of Ministers (para 2(d) above) to provide more detailed advice on 43 other recommendations to Foreign Ministers at their September meeting in New York, as a basis for further decision by Heads; and
iv. deeming 11 recommendations inappropriate for adoption.
h) strengthening the newly established Commonwealth Network of Election Management Bodies as well as election monitoring, and supporting capacity building for professional election administrators;
i) urging the interim government of Fiji to restore democracy without further delay, to respect human rights, and to uphold the rule of law, and reaffirming that the Commonwealth should continue to remain engaged with Fiji and support efforts towards that end;
j) urging members to consider becoming parties to all major international human rights instruments; to implement fully the rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, as well as those human rights treaties to which they are a party; to uphold these rights and freedoms; to share best practice and lessons learned, including from the United Nations Universal Periodic Review process; and to continue to support the work of National Human Rights Institutions; and
k) promoting tolerance, respect, understanding and religious freedom which, inter alia, are essential to the development of free and democratic societies.
3. Revitalising the Commonwealth’s development priorities to ensure it effectively articulates and meets the development needs of member states today and in the future. To this end, Heads:
a) agreed the Perth Declaration on Food Security Principles;
b) reflected on the multiple development challenges confronting small states in the global economy as a result of their inherent vulnerabilities, and agreed that this is having an adverse impact on their sustainable development and growth prospects; and in this context:
i. welcomed and endorsed the outcomes of the first Global Biennial Conference of Small States held in 2010;
ii. endorsed the outcomes of the Commonwealth and Developing Small States meeting, which stressed in relation to Commonwealth and developing small states, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS): the importance of taking urgent action on climate change and sustainable development, particularly through the G20, the UN climate change conference in Durban, and Rio+20; the need to work towards legally binding outcomes under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) capable of avoiding dangerous climate change; the need for enhanced action on adaptation and transparent and accessible climate finance to support developing small states; the need for practical outcomes at Rio+20 on the ‘blue economy’ to ensure the sustainable management of our oceans as the basis for livelihoods, food security and economic development; and for Commonwealth G20 members to reflect these concerns and perspectives at the upcoming G20 summit;
iii. agreed that vulnerability to climate change is widespread and particularly affects small states. The Commonwealth has an important role to play in advancing the climate change priorities of Commonwealth small and vulnerable states as well as fostering mutual collaboration among Commonwealth countries in order to address such priorities;
iv. agreed to assist small and climate vulnerable states develop their capacity to respond in a timely and effective way to disasters and to build their national disaster response capabilities;
v. welcomed the establishment of the Commonwealth Office for Small States in Geneva and urged further support for it;
vi. considered the substantive work that the Commonwealth has done on the issue of small states, including on SIDS, and called for this expertise to be shared with other international institutions, such as the UN, which are involved in the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy and the Barbados Programme of Action;
c) recalled the Port of Spain Climate Change Consensus and noted the undisputed threat that climate change poses to the security, prosperity and economic and social development of the people, as well as the impact it has in terms of deepening poverty and affecting the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and reaffirmed their commitment to work towards a shared vision for long-term cooperative action to achieve the objective of the UNFCCC, addressing mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity building in a balanced, integrated and comprehensive manner; in this context:
i. committed to advocate for these actions at the UNFCCC conference in Durban and beyond, for legally binding outcomes;
ii. committed to work together to build climate resilience and to facilitate the efficient mobilisation of funding for urgent and effective mitigation, adaptation and capacity building, prioritising the most vulnerable developing countries, including small island developing states; and recognised the importance of markets in maximising global emission reductions at the least possible cost, and the promotion of technology transfer to these countries;
iii. recognising the existential impact of climate change on coastal and island communities, emphasised the great importance of building national resilience to ameliorate local climate change-induced population displacement, as well as the imperative to reach strong and effective solutions to reduce global emissions and enhance multilateral, regional and bilateral cooperation on adaptation;
iv. committed to practical action in line with the Lake Victoria Commonwealth Climate Change Action Plan, including efforts to facilitate immediate access to climate change finance and technology transfer, especially for mitigation and adaptation;
d) agreed to focus on practical and ambitious outcomes at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 to address the challenges facing this and future generations, including with a view to expediting implementation of the outcomes of the Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; in this regard:
i. committed to advocate urgent action at Rio+20 to assist developing states to build resilience through sustainable development, in particular by taking steps to transition towards green growth trajectories and to strengthen institutional frameworks for achieving this transition. Rio+20 should deliver an outcome which allows progress to be measured in a meaningful way. The value of natural resources should be given due consideration in economic decision-making;
ii. agreed to explore options for sharing best practice on resource management and promote initiatives to provide access to monitoring, research, education and training, and technical and policy expertise;
iii. welcomed the briefing they received on the emerging conclusions of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability;
iv. recognised the need to preserve the policy space of countries to frame their own national strategies to prioritise according to their national circumstances;
v. supported and upheld the role and place of local government, in partnership with the private sector, for promoting strategies for localism, sustainable development and economic growth, and supported the implementation of the Cardiff Consensus for Local Economic Development in the Commonwealth;
vi. recognised the valuable role clean and renewable energy will play in a sustainable future and the importance of promoting the implementation of green technology;
vii. recognised the importance of energy security through improved efficiency measures and the promotion of clean and affordable energy, including renewable energy;
viii. recognised also the need for sustainable management of oceans for livelihoods, food security and economic development;
ix. emphasised that poverty eradication and the provision of universal access to energy for all remain important priorities and that the green economy is a pathway to achieve these objectives on the basis of the Rio Principles of Sustainable Development;
e) agreed to promote more effective natural resource management through greater transparency and better governance, and taking account of the values of natural capital in decision-making, build on the Commonwealth’s longstanding practical contributions to member governments in this area. To that end:
i. agreed to build capacity in and share best practice on resource management, and welcomed members’ initiatives to provide access to research, education and training, and technical and policy expertise;
ii. welcomed the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative principles and encouraged Commonwealth countries to consider supporting or implementing them;
iii. committed to combating the illegal exploitation of natural resources, including through supporting the Lusaka Declaration of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region;
f) agreed to promote inclusive education and to accelerate efforts to achieve quality universal primary education, in line with the MDGs and Education For All goals. They further agreed to:
i. help children attain basic levels of literacy and numeracy by strengthening international mechanisms and cooperation, including through new technologies;
ii. create opportunities for skills development and quality secondary and higher education;
iii. call for a successful completion of the first replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education in Copenhagen in November 2011;
g) committed to universal access to health care, and services to improve maternal and reproductive health, supporting access to safe, affordable and quality medicines, and support for all Commonwealth people by accelerating the implementation of international conventions and eradicating disease by improving domestic health strategies and immunisation systems. Heads agreed to do this by:
i. accelerating action and financial support to eradicate polio including by improving routine immunisation systems;
ii. accelerating implementation of the Political Declaration of the UN High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases and the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control;
iii. committing to accelerating action to implement the objectives outlined in the 2011 UN Political Declaration on AIDS;
iv. recognising that malaria is one of the leading causes of death and a major obstacle to the achievement of sustainable development and poverty alleviation, agreeing to work proactively with key stakeholders and partners towards accelerated implementation of strategies to reduce malarial morbidity and mortality in member countries;
v. addressing malnutrition, measles, acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea as leading causes of death for children under five, as well as prevalent diseases such as tuberculosis and rotavirus, including through proven international mechanisms such as the GAVI Alliance;
h) committed to maximise the economic and social benefits of migration to improve the resilience and prosperity of Commonwealth members, whilst addressing the challenges posed by irregular migration which undermines legal migration policies. They:
i. called for stronger international cooperation to manage migration effectively in countries of origin, transit and destination, in order to bolster migration’s positive effects and to enhance safety nets for migrants;
ii. called for cooperation in the fight against irregular migration, including in particular the readmission of own nationals staying irregularly in other states, in accordance with bilateral agreements and international obligations;
iii. in this context, articulated the link between migration and development, affirming the importance of adopting migration strategies that would reduce the cost of migration, and create incentives for diaspora communities to invest their financial resources and expertise in the development of their countries of origin;
iv. noted and encouraged participation in the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which Mauritius will host in 2012;
i) agreed to work together, provide financial support to, and make the policy and institutional changes needed to accelerate achieving the MDGs; and:
i. directed the Commonwealth Secretariat to assist members in having their priorities reflected at the special event to be organised by the President of the Sixty-Eighth session of the UN General Assembly to take stock of efforts made towards achieving the MDGs;
j) called for renewed international commitment to the principles of aid effectiveness to achieve the MDGs by 2015, more imperative than ever in the current challenging global economic and financial environment and, in this regard, noted with appreciation the Commonwealth Statement on Accelerating Development with More Effective Aid, and expressed their desire to achieve a successful outcome at the Fourth High-Level Forum in Busan;
k) welcomed the launch of the Commonwealth Connects portal as a contemporary platform for networking, building partnerships and strengthening the Commonwealth’s values and effectiveness, and encouraged its use; and
l) reiterated their support for the Commonwealth Connects programme which is encouraging greater effort from member countries to harness the benefits provided by technology, through promoting strategic partnerships, building ICT capacity and sharing ICT expertise; encouraged member countries to contribute to the Commonwealth Connects Special Fund; and requested the Secretariat’s continued support for the programme.
4. Working together and with global partners to secure the global economic recovery and ensure a stronger, more sustainable and balanced global economic system that will benefit all Commonwealth countries, by:
a) committing to avoid trade protectionism and advocating the importance of an open, transparent and rules-based multilateral trading system as a driver of global growth and to support development, and in this context:
i. congratulated the thirteen Commonwealth countries that have agreed to formal negotiations to create an African Free Trade Area, covering 26 countries from the Cape to Cairo, by 2014;
b) committing also to support regional economic integration, enhancing market access and building the capacity of LDCs, land-locked developing states, and other small and vulnerable economies, including SIDS, to participate in and benefit from the global trading and economic system and to further encourage pan-Commonwealth trade;
c) reaffirming their commitment to pursuing development-oriented and ambitious results in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Development Round, but noting with grave concern the impasse in current negotiations and calling upon WTO members to make substantive progress at the Eighth WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2011 for an early conclusion of the Doha Round, they:
i. reaffirmed the role of the World Trade Organization in making rules which keep pace with demands generated by global economic shifts, help police protectionist measures, and contribute to a sustainable global economic recovery;
ii. urged the international community to accelerate efforts to enhance market access for LDCs, land-locked developing states and SIDS at the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference;
iii. urged support for an anti-protectionist pledge at the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference;
iv. considered innovative approaches to drive forward trade liberalisation and to strengthen the multilateral rules-based trading system;
v. further reaffirmed the importance of sustained and predictable Aid for Trade in strengthening the capacity of developing country members, in particular small and vulnerable economies, to become more competitive and better able to capture opportunities created by more open regional and global markets. To this end, Heads called for continued support for Aid for Trade and improved disbursement procedures at the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference;
d) urging the G20 to take the necessary steps to address current economic instability and to take concrete steps to put open trade, jobs, social protection and economic development at the heart of the recovery. This will provide the necessary confidence to global markets and ensure a more stable global economic environment. In support of this, Commonwealth countries:
i. committed to take all necessary steps to support the global economic recovery;
ii. supported ongoing high-level political engagement with the G20 chair and, in this context, welcomed the interaction of the Secretaries-General of the Commonwealth and La Francophonie with the Chair of the G20, as initiated in 2010;
iii. agreed that Commonwealth G20 members would undertake to convey Commonwealth members’ perspectives and priority concerns to the G20 Summit in Cannes, France;
iv. agreed to launch an annual officials-level Commonwealth meeting on the G20 development agenda, building on the Commonwealth’s current contributions to the G20 Development Working Group; and
e) agreeing to reduce the cost of remittance transfers by removing barriers to remitting and encouraging greater competition in the transfer market, by endorsing the World Bank’s General Principles for International Remittance Services
i. in line with this, Commonwealth countries committed to implement practical measures at the national level to reduce the cost of remittances.
5. Improving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the Commonwealth by:
a) supporting national programmes to this effect, including initiatives to eliminate gender-based violence, intensifying efforts to promote women’s decision-making roles at all levels, and continuing to improve advocacy for women’s leadership and the empowerment of women as leaders;
b) implementing international instruments and agreements on women’s rights, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Commonwealth’s Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005-2015, and the ‘Joint Statement on Advancing Women’s Political Participation’ and UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 1325, 1888 and 1889;
c) applauding the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat in promoting the significance of the 2011 Commonwealth Day Theme “Women as Agents of Change” and the centrality of gender equality and the empowerment of women to achieving the MDGs;
d) directing the Commonwealth Secretariat to institutionalise the principles of gender mainstreaming, as enshrined in the Commonwealth Plan of Action; and to provide recommendations to Heads, through the Tenth Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (WAMM) on steps that need to be taken to mainstream gender equality across all Commonwealth work; and to make real progress on implementation of the Plan of Action;
e) supporting the call made by Ministers at the Ninth WAMM held in Bridgetown, Barbados in June 2010, for a more effective response from all actors in the global community to the disproportionately negative impact of the current international and national economic crises on women; and
f) giving due consideration to the domestic legislation of member countries, the Commonwealth may address the issue of early and forced marriage, and consider actions to support the rights of women and children and to share its best practices to promote the implementation of measures to tackle early and forced marriage.
6. Providing a greater voice and more effective role for youth in the Commonwealth, who represent over 50 per cent of the Commonwealth population, by:
a) directing the Commonwealth Secretariat to undertake an assessment of the Commonwealth’s progress on the Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment, to be submitted with recommendations to Heads, through the Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in 2012, on steps that need to be taken to improve youth engagement and empowerment;
b) enhancing communication with youth, collecting and sharing good practices, and ensuring the voice of youth is represented in Commonwealth actions at the national and international level; and
c) recognising the important role of government, the private sector and technical and vocational training institutions in addressing youth unemployment and the vital importance of sport in assisting young people to stay healthy, contribute to society and develop into leaders of their communities.
7. Maintaining their commitment to a stable and secure national and international environment, as a foundation for sustainable growth and resilience for Commonwealth countries and the broader international community. Heads committed to improve international security by:
a) unequivocally preventing the use of their territories for the support, incitement to violence or commission of terrorist acts, implementing the necessary legal framework for the suppression of terrorist financing, and preventing the raising and use of funds by terrorists, terrorist front organisations, and transnational terrorist organisations;
b) accelerating efforts to conclude negotiations on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism;
c) accelerating efforts to combat piracy in a manner consistent with international law and to strengthen maritime security, including through enhancing the capacity of coastal states;
d) urging the international community to recognise that the menace of piracy in the Indian Ocean cannot be effectively tackled in the absence of political stability and security in Somalia; urging concerted efforts towards strengthening the Transitional Federal Government and other state institutions, including the security sector; encouraging the international community to mobilise additional funding for AMISOM, as appropriate; and encouraging global support in combating piracy and terrorism, including through enhanced maritime security;
e) encouraging states to continue supporting the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in its coordination of international counter-piracy efforts;
f) combating proliferation and trafficking of illicit small arms and light weapons;
g) embracing moderation as an important value to overcome all forms of extremism, as called for in the ‘Global Movement of the Moderates’;
h) encouraging participation in the 2012 Diplomatic Conference to negotiate on the basis of consensus an effective Arms Trade Treaty which is of broad universal acceptance;
i) improving legislation and capacity in tackling cyber crime and other cyber space security threats, including through the Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum’s Cyber Crime Initiative;
j) affirming support for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and its Seventh Review Conference in December 2011; and
k) continuing to tackle the root causes of conflict, including through the promotion of democracy, development and strong legitimate institutions.
8. Combating people smuggling and human trafficking by clamping down on illicit criminal organisations and bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, while protecting and supporting the victims of trafficking. Heads committed to:
a) fight people-smuggling as part of their broader efforts to maintain border integrity and manage migration, including through enhancing border security and regional cooperation;
b) put in place the necessary legal and administrative framework to address the challenge of human trafficking; and affirmed their commitment to the principle of solidarity and cooperation between states with regard to the identification, assistance and protection of victims of trafficking; and
c) comply with all obligations arising under international law and urged all countries to become parties to and implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the Protocols thereto, in particular the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.
9. To promote the future of the Commonwealth through the strong and important voice of its people by:
a) welcoming the contribution made by inter-governmental, associated and other Commonwealth organisations, including the Commonwealth Foundation, Commonwealth of Learning, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Commonwealth Business Council, Commonwealth Local Government Forum and the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management;
b) urging Commonwealth organisations and civil society to enhance Commonwealth networks and partnerships with a view to achieving the fundamental values and aspirations of the Commonwealth;
c) relaunching the Commonwealth Foundation in 2012, while retaining its fundamental intergovernmental nature and maintaining its accountability to member states, with a revised mandate and Memorandum of Understanding so that it can more effectively deliver the objectives of strengthening and mobilising civil society in support of Commonwealth principles and priorities; and
d) welcoming the outcomes of the Commonwealth People’s Forum, Business Forum, and Youth Forum.
10. To reaffirm previous CHOGM Communiqués on Cyprus and express full support for the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of the Republic of Cyprus and the efforts of the leaders of the two communities, under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General’s Good Offices Mission, to bring about a comprehensive Cyprus settlement, based on the UN Charter and the relevant UNSCRs for a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty, single international personality and a single citizenship, in a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality as described in the relevant UNSCRs. Heads called for the implementation of UNSCRs, in particular 365 (1974), 541 (1983), 550 (1984), and 1251 (1999) and reiterated their support for the full respect of the human rights of all Cypriots and for the accounting for all missing persons. To extend their full support and solidarity to the Republic of Cyprus in the exercise of its sovereign rights under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to explore and exploit the natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone.
11. To note recent developments in the ongoing efforts of Belize to seek a just, peaceful and definitive resolution to Guatemala’s territorial claims. Heads noted that, due to the electoral campaigns scheduled in both Belize and Guatemala in the coming months, it was envisaged that the earliest date for the referenda required to submit the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would be in late 2013. Heads expressed a high level of confidence that the dispute could be resolved through the judicial procedure of the ICJ, and urged the support and financial assistance of the international community for this process. Heads further expressed satisfaction with the ongoing Confidence Building Measures supported by the Organization of American States, which had contributed immensely to stability in the adjacent border areas of Belize and Guatemala. They noted with concern the environmental problems being faced by Belize in its national parks along its adjacent areas with Guatemala due to the increasing encroachments by Guatemalan citizens for illegal logging. Heads reiterated their firm support for the territorial integrity, security and sovereignty of Belize, and mandated the Secretary-General to continue to convene the Commonwealth Ministerial Committee on Belize whenever necessary.
12. Having received a report on Guyana-Venezuela relations, to express their satisfaction that the relations between the two countries continued to grow and deepen. Heads noted that the Foreign Ministers of Guyana and Venezuela had met recently in Trinidad and Tobago to address the concerns of the Government of Venezuela over Guyana’s submission of a claim to an extended continental shelf to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Heads expressed the view that the current climate in the relations between Guyana and Venezuela was conducive to the realisation of the mandate of the UN Good Offices Process. Heads reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the maintenance and safeguarding of Guyana’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
13. To welcome the interest shown by the Government of South Sudan in joining the Commonwealth, and to request the Commonwealth Secretariat to pursue the established procedures in this regard.
14. To look forward to the conditions being created for the return of Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth and continue to encourage the parties to implement the Global Political Agreement faithfully and effectively.
15. To congratulate the Head of the Commonwealth on her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Heads welcomed proposed Commonwealth initiatives to mark this historic occasion, in particular the establishment of a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which would be funded by private donations and voluntary contributions from governments. This will support charitable projects and organisations across the Commonwealth, focusing on areas such as tackling curable diseases, the promotion of all forms of education and culture and other Commonwealth priorities.
16. To reappoint Mr Kamalesh Sharma as Commonwealth Secretary-General for a further four-year term commencing April 2012.
17. Finally, to reaffirm their decisions to meet next in Sri Lanka in 2013 and thereafter in Mauritius in 2015, as well as to welcome the offer by Malaysia to host the 2019 CHOGM.
30 October 2011
Saturday, 29 October 2011
South Sudan, the world’s newest nation became a member of the United Nations on July 14 and joined the African Union on July 28. (Photo by AFP)
The world’s newest nation, South Sudan, wants to join the Commonwealth, the bloc’s Assistant Secretary General Stephen Cutts said Saturday.
The landlocked African country, which declared independence from Sudan in July after a long civil war, had recognized the potential benefits of becoming part of the 54-nation grouping, Cutts said.
“The newest country on Earth, South Sudan, expressed an interest in joining the Commonwealth almost immediately after it came into existence,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation television.
“I understand there are other countries (interested in joining),” he added, without naming the nations.
Cutts said South Sudan’s interest showed that the Commonwealth, comprised mainly of former British colonies, remained relevant and offered benefits to its members.
“I think it’s testament to the fact that in the broader world there is recognition that the Commonwealth has a potential for significant value,” he said.
A Commonwealth business forum which preceded this week’s leaders’ meeting in Perth resulted in deals worth some $10.5 billion, most centered on the African resources sector, organizers estimate.
South Sudan gained independence from the mainly Arab north after its population of more than eight million, who are predominantly Christian or follow traditional African religions, overwhelmingly backed a referendum on secession in January.
The fledgling nation, which is also one of the world’s poorest countries, became a member of the United Nations on July 14 and joined the African Union on July 28.
Neither of the two countries that have most recently joined the Commonwealth, Rwanda and Mozambique, have colonial links to Britain.
South Sudan Turns Toward British Heritage
By JOSH KRON
Published: October 29, 2011
MOGADISHU, Somalia — The new nation of South Sudan has expressed a desire to join the Commonwealth, a group composed mainly of former British colonies, and said that it would change the language used in schools from Arabic to English. The two actions further cement its pivot from the Arab world of northern Africa toward the largely Anglophone east.
South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July, ending decades of civil war in which the Arab-dominated north tried to forcibly convert the south to Islam, building mosques and burning down villages.
A spokesman for the Commonwealth, Manoah Esipisu, said Saturday that South Sudan had “expressed an interest in joining” the organization, formerly known as the British Commonwealth.
“An informal assessment will be taken by the secretary general,” and then member states will be consulted, Mr. Esipisu said in a telephone interview from Perth, Australia, where the group was holding a summit meeting. He said the process was estimated to take two years.
In a separate development, officials announced this week that the language used in schools would be changed from Arabic to English.
Though much of South Sudan’s population grew up speaking Arabic, the country has instituted changes in the way it is run to reflect its political aspirations, as well as its close geographic and economic proximity to East Africa.
Uganda and Kenya, both former British colonies, are among South Sudan’s largest trading partners, and government officials have spoken of building an oil pipeline to Kenya to connect to the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa as an alternative to sending its oil to the northern Sudanese government in Khartoum.
This month, South Sudan also reiterated its interest in joining the East African Community economic bloc, which it neighbors.
“We are not dragging our feet,” said President Salva Kiir, according to a statement issued by the bloc, “we are coming.”