NovemberPort of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Nigerian Foreign Minister Chief Ojo Maduekwe and his spouse greet Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma at CHOGM 2009
President Richards, Prime Minister Manning, President Museveni, Secretary-General, Ladies and Gentlemen,This diamond anniversary year is an important time for the Commonwealth to look back – and, more importantly, look forward. In doing so, I believe we can be pleased with how far the Commonwealth has come in its 60 years, and yet how true it has remained to its origins. But this does not mean we should become complacent or rest on past successes. Like any good organization we must continue to pay close attention to the things that give it distinctive character
In my view one of the core strengths of the Commonwealth lies in the commitment to common goals and values. Our shared pledge to “the pursuit of peace, liberty and progress” that my father helped to enshrine in the London Declaration in 1949 means as much today as it did then. We cherish freedom, democracy and development as dearly as ever.
But the Commonwealth’s strength lies as much in people as it does in values. Few other global organizations can boast the same rich diversity of humankind and yet also such a commonality of spirit
And on this, the eve of the UN Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to lead once more. The threat to our environment is not a new concern. But it is now a global challenge which will continue to affect the security and stability of millions for years to come. Many of those affected are among the most vulnerable, and many of the people least well able to withstand the adverse effects of Climate Change live in the Commonwealth.A second area of opportunity for the Commonwealth is nurturing its young people. As with environmental challenges, this area is not new; but while the Commonwealth may rightly celebrate reaching its 60th anniversary, the future of this association lies with the one billion who are under 25 years of age. The Commonwealth must show that it is relevant to and supportive of our young people who need to be convinced that the Commonwealth can help them to realize their ambitions.