Key events and meetings

Iana Seales

Youth Programme celebrates 40th anniversary

The Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) is celebrating 40 years of championing young people’s engagement in decision-making and development.

The programme – headquartered in London with regional centres in Guyana, India, Solomon Islands and Zambia – advocates for young people to be represented at all levels of decision-making, which is increasingly recognised as an important development objective. Young people play a direct and key role in CYP – its programme design and as representatives, advocates, facilitators, leaders.

Secretary-General addresses UN Human Rights Council

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma addressed the High-Level Segment of the Human Rights Council’s 22nd session in Geneva, Switzerland, on 28 February.

He welcomed the opportunity to speak about some of the specific human rights concerns of the Commonwealth, and to refer to practical aspects of the Secretariat’s work aimed at strengthening human rights protection and promotion.

Commonwealth and UNDP work with Caribbean on debt challenges

Senior finance officials from Commonwealth Caribbean countries met in Trinidad and Tobago from 29 to 30 January to discuss ways of managing debt in the face of uncontrollable shocks to their economies.

The workshop in Port of Spain was jointly organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Development Programme in collaboration with the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, and attended by major international and regional financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and Caribbean Development Bank.

Delegates also discussed various uncommon and new sources of financing that could be useful for helping Caribbean countries cope with their current debt challenges.

Youth Development Index created

The Commonwealth has developed its first index to monitor the development and empowerment of young people in its member countries.

The Youth Development Index measures the status of young people, aged 15-29, in five key domains: education, health, employment, and civic and political participation. It will assist youth ministers and other policy-makers in identifying areas for investment to ensure young people fulfil their potential.

The index has been developed over the past year with a team of technical experts from across the Commonwealth, in collaboration with the Institute For Economics and Peace, which created the tool.

Commonwealth launches first anticorruption centre

Botswana’s Vice-President launched the Commonwealth’s first regional anti-corruption centre in the capital city, Gaborone, on 25 February, in what he described as “a big day – and achievement for Africa and the Commonwealth”.

Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe said the Commonwealth Africa Anti-corruption Centre would provide on-going training for officials from across the continent as well as for officers from local oversight bodies. The centre will also provide accessible support to agencies battling against increasingly sophisticated forms of corruption.

The Government of Botswana, in collaboration with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, will provide the secretariat and training facilities, while the Commonwealth has pledged £1 million to fund the centre’s flagship programmes over four years.

Positioning governance in the post 2015 agenda

The Commonwealth can make a distinct contribution towards ensuring that the issue of governance is a core part of a new set of development goals being negotiated internationally, the Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General said.

Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba was speaking at the final United Nations Development Programme and Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights consultation on the role of governance in the global anti-poverty framework that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals after the 2015 deadline.

The two-day thematic consultation ended on 1 March at the Pan-African Parliament in Johannesburg, South Africa, and included contributions from civil society, policy-makers and governance practitioners from around the world.

HM Queen Elizabeth II signs historic Commonwealth Charter

HM Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, marked Commonwealth Day on Monday, 11 March, by signing the Commonwealth Charter-an historic document which brings together, for the first time in the association’s 64-year history, key declarations on Commonwealth principles.

The signing took place at a reception hosted by Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma at Marlborough House in London. After the signing, the Queen addressed High Commissioners and other dignitaries at the reception.

Zuma launches youth worker conference

South African President Jacob Zuma opened the first Commonwealth Conference – Education and Training of Youth Workers – on 20 March, by calling for greater recognition of the “crucial” role played by the frontline providers of services to young people.

The three-day conference in Pretoria, South Africa, focused on professionalising youth work, to ensure practitioners are recognised for the part they play in developing young people’s potential.

About the author:

Iana Seales is a Commonwealth News Writer at the Commonwealth Secretariat


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