Key events and meetings

Finance Ministers address impact of external shocks

Commonwealth Finance Ministers concluded their 2012 annual meeting in Tokyo, Japan, on 10 October 2012 with a call for concerted global action to address youth unemployment and a deepening of efforts to address the adverse impacts of external shocks, particularly for the poorest, smallest and most vulnerable developing countries.

The meeting followed extensive earlier discussions by Commonwealth senior finance officials on the development framework that should succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when these come to an end in 2015, and on options to catalyse private sector participation through several emerging new instruments and asset classes. The meeting was held in the wings of the annual summits of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Commonwealth launches new debt management tool

New software to help countries plan, analyse and manage sovereign debt was launched on 10 October. The interactive system, known as Horizon, assists debt managers in planning strategic debt operations, starting from identification of a debt management strategy through to cost-risk analysis. Roy Arindam, debt management expert at the Commonwealth Secretariat, unveiled the facility during the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting in Tokyo. The software is free to all Commonwealth countries.

Nigeria and the Commonwealth improve terrorism adjudication

Nigerian Federal High Court judges met in London with Commonwealth, United Nations and UK experts to examine and improve the adjudication of terrorism cases. The training, from 9 to 12 October, focused on fair hearings in these cases, security and safety of courts and personnel, witness protection and assistance, and case management. It was held at the Commonwealth Secretariat headquarters in Marlborough House.

The Commonwealth, in collaboration with the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), provided the assistance in an effort to strengthen criminal justice delivery in Nigeria.

London youth worker wins Commonwealth award

A youth worker who promotes international youth exchanges that enables young people to travel abroad received the Commonwealth Youth Worker Award on 8 November at the UK’s National Youth Agency’s (NYA) Youth Worker Awards. Director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award London region, Peter Fleet, was presented with the award by Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in London during Youth Work Week 2012 (5-11 November).

This year, for the first time, the NYA partnered with the Secretariat for Youth Work Week. During the event the Commonwealth’s regional youth centres held a range of activities focused on celebrating and expanding the youth work profession.

Education Ministers conclude post 2015 recommendations

On 13 December, Commonwealth Education Ministers agreed on a set of core recommendations for a framework to succeed the Education for All initiative and the Millennium Development Goals in education. The recommendations include a proposal for targets and deadlines that consider the realities of different countries and a call for a ‘final push’ to achieve the current goals before the 2015 target date.

Ministers and representatives handed over the proposals on 14 December to the office of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who co-chairs the United Nations High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Commonwealth launches ‘The Big Divide’

A new Commonwealth publication that reveals the “big divide” between small states in achieving the MDGs was launched on 17 December. The Big Divide was presented by its authors, John L. Roberts and Ibukunoluwa Ibitoye, at Marlborough House in London.

The report found that of 46 Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth small island developing states compared over a ten-year period from 2000, there was an “enormous” variance in their performance on the MDGs indicators. It also compares the results with ten larger states.

Further, the report makes recommendations on how the MDGs system, and new development targets currently under discussion for post-2015, can be more attuned to small states’ interests and their unique characteristics.

Charter heralds new era for Commonwealth

Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma and Commonwealth Chair-in-Office Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia announced on 19 December the adoption of an historic Charter for the Commonwealth, as part of a wide-ranging package of reforms to the 54-member association.

The Charter brings together the values and aspirations that unite the Commonwealth – democracy, human rights and the rule of law – in a single, accessible document. Heads of Government endorsed the Charter after broad consultations among member governments, civil society and the public. They also agreed to adopt 85 percent of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) recommendations. The ten-member EPG was given the task of advising the Commonwealth on building a stronger, more resilient and progressive association.


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