The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 15 to 17 November 2013, on the theme Growth with Equity: Inclusive Development. Twenty-seven Commonwealth members were represented by their Heads of State or Government.
The aims, ambitions and achievements of CHOGM 2013 were catalogued in an official communiqué and published by the Commonwealth Secretariat. It deals in detail with agreements made by the Heads of Government regarding a series of key social, political and economic issues facing Commonwealth member states as individuals, a collective and as part of the global environment.
Political agreements made in the report include the reiteration of the belief in the fundamental right for all Commonwealth citizens to be able to participate in democratic processes, with local government playing a key part in enhancing such exercises (as seen in the endorsement of the 2013 Kampala Declaration on Developmental Local Government), as well as making statements on the importance of universal Human Rights and the Freedom of Expression.
Economic points of interest included the recalling of the commitment made in the Perth 2011 Communiqué to promote more effective natural resource management through greater transparency and better governance; the importance of the payment of taxes and collection of revenue within member states; and the need for concerted efforts aimed at ensuring safe and accessible channels for legitimate money transfer operations worldwide.
Small states were also a point of interest, with concern raised over the disproportionate impact on them by the global economic crisis and the resulting effect on their ability to meet their Millennium Development Goals targets.
Despite this, substantial progress has been made both globally and within the Commonwealth towards the achievement of the MDGs. Other social issues discussed included the reaffirmation of all the Rio principles, including the point of how eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today. In light of this, the post-2015 development agenda should re-enforce the international community’s commitment to poverty eradication and sustainable development.
Heads also agreed to encourage, support and protect the efforts of civil society organisations to improve the monitoring of cases of sexual violence in armed conflict without fear of reprisal, whilst also promoting a report into greater access for cross-border movement of Commonwealth citizens on bona fide travel, emphasising migration as an important component of the development process.
Heads discussed The Gambia’s decision to leave the Commonwealth, disputes in Cyprus, Belize and Guyana, as well accepting the offer of the Prime Minister of Malta to host their next Meeting in 2015. They also welcomed the offers of Vanuatu and Malaysia to host the 2017 and 2019 CHOGMs, respectively.
The CHOGM 2013 communique can be found here.