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Global issue 20

network The Long View commonwealth Civil society and the modern Commonwealth Representatives of Commonwealth organisations met in London to discuss their changing relationship with the Secretariat and the Foundation – and look at funding for the future Member states should commit to doubling access to government ministers. Many associations the amount of funding available to Commonwealth represented at the conference felt organisations, a conference in late that they had once enjoyed a closer relationship 2014 heard, in order to ease the financial difficulties with the Secretariat and the Foundation, many groups are currently suffering. which they would like to re-establish following A change in the function of the Commonwealth the recent restructuring at the Secretariat. Foundation, which was set up in the The Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, 1960s to encourage the formation of professional responded that the Secretariat is looking and academic associations, has meant to recruit two new people to the Secretary- that many Commonwealth organisations no General’s Office who will be responsible for longer receive funding from the Foundation, information exchange, including promoting leaving some struggling for cash. practical collaboration with accredited Commonwealth The conference* in London, organised organisations (see ‘This doesn’t by the Round Table, the Royal Over-Seas look to me like a declining Commonwealth’ League and the Commonwealth Association, on page 84). The proposal is awaiting signoff was entitled: ‘Commonwealth organisations by member states. “I see no reason why and the Peoples’ Commonwealth: common the member states will not welcome it,” added purpose or parting of the ways?’ As well as Sharma. looking at issues of funding, Commonwealth Once the new staff members are in place, organisations wanted to know if there was a the intention is to have a two of meetings way they could work more closely with the a year between the Secretariat and each Commonwealth Secretariat and the Foundation of the nine accredited Commonwealth to influence policy and, ideally, have organisations. 82 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2015 global Carl Wright, secretary-general of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, suggested that the Commonwealth ought to relaunch itself to re-engage citizens and governments of its member countries who might be starting to think that the Commonwealth is becoming less relevant in the 21st century. “I have just flown in from Asia and despite polite acknowledgments, I do not detect any strong sentiment in support of the Commonwealth in places like Delhi or Kuala Lumpur,” he said, stressing that he was speaking at the conference in a personal capacity. “Here in the UK, although the current government has been more supportive than its predecessors, the public has little understanding of the modern Commonwealth.” On a more positive note, he added that the Malta CHOGM in 2015 would be the perfect opportunity for a re-vitalisation. “I was much taken by the thoughtful address recently given in London by the Prime Minister of Malta, who, as CHOGM host, will Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Sri Lanka. Malta is to host the next CHOGM © Kesara Ratnavibhushana


Global issue 20
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