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Global_17

Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prince Charles welcome Heads of Government to Colombo global f i rst quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 79 commonwealth network Colloquia CHOGM The Prince of Wales opened the 22nd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he was representing Queen Elizabeth as Head of the Commonwealth. “Sri Lanka was one of the founding countries of the modern Commonwealth,” he said. “Historians of this family of nations will recall that, in the circumstances of that time, the Commonwealth showed an exceptional spirit of accommodation over how the organisation should be constituted.” He also spoke of the importance of the Commonwealth Charter – which brings together the values and aspirations of the Commonwealth in a single document – which was signed by the Queen on Commonwealth Day 2013. He added: “If I may, I should like to take this opportunity of extending Her Majesty’s sincere thanks for this remarkable initiative, which has been founded as a tribute to her 60 years of service as Head of the Commonwealth.” Of the 50 countries in attendance at the main Heads of Government Meeting, 27 countries had sent their Head of State or Government in person, with the rest being represented by other senior officials. Canada, India and Mauritius boycotted the meeting (see page 81). Sri Lanka’s President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, alluded to the summit’s theme of ‘Growth with equity: inclusive development’ in his welcome speech. He said: “We believe this theme has broad relevance to the larger Commonwealth and highlights the importance of equity in economic development, particularly in view of the existing disparities in the distribution of wealth and economic benefits.” In his opening ceremony address, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that the role of CHOGMs is to bring member countries closer together as a family. “Deep awareness that our destinies are joined drives us forward in seeking together practical solutions to the many great tasks before the Commonwealth, and the world at large,” he said. Malta is to hold the 2015 CHOGM, while Vanuatu and Malaysia have offered to host the 2017 and 2019 summits, respectively. Bite-sized CHOGM The communiqué issued after CHOGM 2013 runs to 21 pages and 98 points, recording everything that Heads of Government welcomed, questioned, recognised, emphasised, noted or raised concerns about during the main meeting. Global has summarised the key points into this brief digest: „„ Development: Heads of Government acknowledged that poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today „„ Heads affirmed that the post-2015 development agenda should reinforce the international community’s commitment to poverty eradication „„ Heads expressed concern that some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remain off-track „„ Climate and land management: Heads recognised that climate change continues to be a major challenge, particularly for climate-vulnerable developing countries „„ Heads recognised the importance of the world’s oceans as the basis for a range of critical economic and social activities. They urged that special efforts be made to deliver practical assistance to Small Island Developing States towards the efficient and sustainable use of marine resources „„ Concern was raised about the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products „„ Heads noted problems caused by deforestation and desertification. They called on Commonwealth governments, and the Secretariat, to find a long-term solution to develop sustainable financing for land management „„ G20: Heads welcomed a closer working relationship with G20 „„ Free speech: Heads requested the Secretary-General to review the Commonwealth Media Development Fund to examine how it can help to build the capacity of a free and responsible media „„ Women and children: Heads will continue to address the issue of child marriage and forced marriage. Sexual violence during armed conflict was also denounced, with encouragement offered to the efforts of civil society in tackling this problem „„ Heads welcomed the call for prioritisation of gender equality in the post-2015 development framework „„ Corruption: Heads called for accelerated efforts to eliminate all forms of corruption and called for an end to impunity „„ Money transfers: Heads expressed their commitment to fighting money laundering, but emphasised the need for concerted efforts to ensure accessible channels for legitimate money transfer „„ Terrorism and arms: Heads called for a comprehensive approach to working with the UN on measures to tackle terrorism. Deep concerns were expressed about the incidence of piracy „„ Education: Heads called on member states to ensure that each child is able to complete a full cycle of good quality education „„Health: Heads expressed concern about the difficulties faced by developing countries in accessing essential medicine and medical equipment „„Fiji: Heads reiterated their expectation of Fiji’s reinstatement as a full member of the Commonwealth family, following restoration of democracy, human rights and the rule of law „„Cyprus: Heads agreed to support the efforts for a comprehensive settlement of ‘the Cyprus problem’ „„Belize: Heads reiterated their firm support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Belize „„The Gambia: Heads looked forward to The Gambia’s eventual return to the Commonwealth „„Movement of citizens: Heads recognised the importance of people being able to move more easily between Commonwealth countries for bona fide travel


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