Rwanda was officially welcomed as the 54th member of the Commonwealth
Yesterday, President Paul Kagame concluded his visit to Australia, where he attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). At the summit, Rwanda was officially welcomed as the 54th member of the Commonwealth family. The country was admitted into the grouping two years ago, becoming the second member that was not colonized by Britain.
At the meeting, the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their commitment to the values and principles of the Commonwealth. They committed to reform the Commonwealth to ensure that it is a more effective institution, responsive to members’ needs, and capable of tackling the significant global challenges of the 21st century.
A statement indicate that the leaders also agreed to actively promote, uphold, preserve and defend the fundamental values, principles and aspirations of the Commonwealth, and to revitalise the Commonwealth’s development priorities to ensure it effectively articulates and meets the development needs of member states today and in the future.
They resolved to work together and with global partners to secure the global economic recovery and ensure a stronger, more sustainable and balanced global economic system that will benefit all Commonwealth countries. The meeting resolved to improve gender equality and to empower women, and reaffirmed the provision of a greater voice and more effective role for youth in the Commonwealth, who constitute more than 50 percent of the Commonwealth population.
The leaders agreed to maintain their commitment to a stable and secure national and international environment, as a foundation for sustainable growth and resilience for Commonwealth countries and the broader international community. They also committed to improve international security. The meeting also resolved to combat human smuggling and trafficking by clamping down on illicit criminal organisations and bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, while protecting and supporting the victims of trafficking.
The CHOGM welcomed the interest shown by the Government of South Sudan in joining the Commonwealth, and requested the Secretariat to pursue the established procedures in this regard. The leaders reaffirmed to look forward to the conditions being created for the return of Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth leaders welcomed the proposed establishment of a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which would be funded by private donations and voluntary contributions from governments. The Trust will support charitable projects and organisations across the Commonwealth, focusing on areas such as tackling curable diseases, the promotion of all forms of education and culture and other Commonwealth priorities.
Kamalesh Sharma was reappointed Commonwealth Secretary-General for another four-year term, commencing April 2012. The next CHOGM will be held in Sri Lanka in 2013 and, thereafter, in Mauritius in 2015.