Home Special Reports CHOGM, Addressing Global Challenges, Not Just Those Of The Commonwealth

CHOGM, Addressing Global Challenges, Not Just Those Of The Commonwealth

by Vincent Gasana
12:51 am

A week or so, after the financial press conference for CHOGM 2022, and for the several representatives of the world’s media organisations, gathered in Kigali’s Intare arena, the week may as well be another time, as they focus on other day to day ephemeral stories.

There was the predictable attempt to divert the press conference towards the usual anti Rwanda narrative. This is to ignore, or try to overshadow, the far reaching agreements, with a potential for global impact, if implemented, even in part.

With the prime minister of Samoa, the Presidents of Guyana and Sierra Leone, and the newly re-elected Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland, next to him, the host, and now chair-in-office, President Paul Kagame, thanked the gathered members of the media, and hinted at what, as incoming chair-in-office, he will be looking to help get accomplished.

“As incoming chair-in-office, I look forward to continue working with the Secretary-General and Commonwealth members, to deliver on our key priorities.”

The President offered fulsome thanks to the outgoing chair-in-office, Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, and reiterated his thanks, and warm appreciation to Prince Charles, who, accompanied by his wife, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, represented his mother, Queen Elizabeth 11, who is head of the Commonwealth.

Anyone familiar with President Kagame’s leadership style, will underline the words, “to deliver on our key priorities” with deliver, especially, being the operative word.

The priorities, announced in a twenty-two page communique, are certainly not lacking in high ambition. Kagame will need to draw on much of his notable skill, to help the 54 member states, now of course 56, with the addition of new members, Togo and Gabon, to turn aspiration into policy and action.

Recovery from Covid-19, was inevitably high on the list of priorities. Alongside that, more eye catching commitments, notably, the Commonwealth Call to Action on Living Lands Charter (CALL), the commitment to sustainable urbanisation, and the Kigali Declaration on Child Care and Protection reform.

The charter is intended to support all 56 nations of the Commonwealth, to make good on their commitments on three Rio de Janeiro conventions, United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UCBD), United Nations Convention to combat desertification (UNCCD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Although not legally binding, the adoption of CALL, by 56 heads of government and states, representing a third of the world’s population, is an important commitment, in the fight against the destruction of the environment.

The Kigali Declaration on Child Care and Protection Reform, commits the leaders to a range of child protection measures, including action against enforced, early marriage of girls, under eighteen years. It is estimated that over the next decade, 140 million girls under eighteen, half of whom are in Commonwealth nations, will be forced into marriage.

The declaration calls on countries to improve data collection on issues affecting children and young people. And the issues are unremittingly awful, ranging from sexual abuse, to violence, sexual exploitation, to poor educational opportunities, or in some cases, a complete lack of them.

With an estimated 60% of the world’s youth population, found within Commonwealth countries, meeting these commitments, even to a small degree, would change millions of lives around the world.

It is projected that the world’s towns and cities, will need to accommodate an additional 2.5 billion people. An estimated 50% of those, will be in what are now Commonwealth countries.

With the dark cloud of climate change, growing ever more menacing, the Declaration on Sustainable Urbanisation, is important not only for the Commonwealth, but the world as a whole.

It should be remembered that the final communique, and leaders’ statement, is informed by discussions out of the different forums, from the youth forum, which kicked off the discussions, to the women’s, business, and people’s forums, not to say other side events.

Seen within the perspective of the striking statistics, 56 of the world’s nations, representing more than 2.5 billion, of predominantly young people, it may be time CHOGM, was widely recognised, as one of the world’s most important forums to solve the pressing global challenges, and not just those of the Commonwealth.

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