Secretary General’s Message 2015

Advancing Commonwealth values in 2015

Every year is notable for the Commonwealth family in a variety of ways: for innovation and collective achievement, and for significant mileposts reached by member states along our shared journey of democracy, development and respect for diversity.

The year 2015 already stands out with particular distinction in terms of the initiatives across a broad range of areas to advance Commonwealth values and on trade, debt, climate change, support for small states, youth, women, creating digital platforms, technical support among member states and partnerships, as well as in global advocacy, including with G20 and the Financing for Development process. It is the year in which the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – CHOGM – returns to Malta for the second time in a decade; and we celebrate half a century of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Secretariat’s golden jubilee, or ‘ComSec@50’ to use its contemporary tag, reminds us of the immense contribution made by generations of our staff in serving with distinction the governments and people of our member countries. When it was set up in 1965 the Secretariat was conceived as an impartial, independent, intergovernmental ‘central clearing house’ for the Commonwealth. By this momentous step, the aspiration that our unique global community of nations should work together in free association for the common good was given shape and reality. Since its inception, the Secretariat has walked with its eyes on the horizon, innovative thinking in mind, practical toolkits in hand, and a determination to make a positive difference. It continues to do so.

In 2015 such vision and collaboration to serve the Commonwealth’s great goals are perhaps even more greatly needed with a larger membership and pressing global challenges. Through partnership and mutual trust, we are able to sustain and advance yet further the principles around which the Commonwealth unites, and the values we share and seek to uphold as reflected in the Commonwealth Charter. As our 2015 theme ‘A Young Commonwealth’ indicates, we are a dynamic family of countries dedicated to serving our burgeoning young nation builders. Containing the diversity of the world and increasingly connected, the Commonwealth brings fresh thought and contribution to the world.

This is seen in the way we are redefining our convening power through continuous digital links. Our Electoral Network, Education Hub, Health Exchange, Climate Finance Skills Hub and Commonwealth Connects are all designed to provide dedicated online platforms for professionals and other stakeholders to be connected. These hubs offer libraries and serve as sources of knowledge, make it possible that peer wisdom and best practice can be shared and applied, and create spaces for collaboration where those involved can work together in real time – around the clock and around the world – to develop partnerships and advance Commonwealth global wisdom and products.

The theme chosen for CHOGM 2015 is ‘Adding Global Value’. This celebrates the distinctive Commonwealth potential and the way in which we are able to influence and effect change in relation to global issues of vital importance to the citizens of all our member states, large and small, and to the world. We are able to do what we can because of what we are: a template for the wider world.

Our aspiration and our motivation is to include all – including women, the young, and the weak and marginalised – so that through equitable opportunity, fairness and justice, and institutions that truly serve all equally, they are able to enjoy lives of mutual respect, dignity and well-being.