The two years covered here, from July 2013 to June 2015, were a period of transformation for the Commonwealth Secretariat as we worked to translate into practical action our Strategic Plan from 2013/14 to 2016/17. The Plan is a clearly signposted roadmap, following implementation of the most fundamental reforms for a generation, both of the work we do and of the way we do it.
The Secretariat facilitated annual dialogues between ministers and senior officials of Commonwealth and Francophonie countries, the G20 Chair and members of the G20 Development Working Group. The 2014 meeting was attended by participants from more than 20 Commonwealth and Francophonie developing countries, representatives of the European Union, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Secretariat presented Commonwealth perspectives on the challenges faced by countries with offshore banking sectors in meeting new tax transparency standards. The G20 Development Working Group acknowledged issues raised by the Secretariat on behalf of Commonwealth developing country members.
At the April 2015 meeting, the Turkish G20 presidency re-iterated its pledge to ensure that inclusive development remained a central focus of its summit in November 2015. This followed the fifth annual dialogue of members of the Commonwealth and La Francophonie in Washington DC. Ministers and senior government officials, the Turkish G20 Presidency and Development Working Group, as well as international and regional organisations, took part in the dialogue.
The Commonwealth Secretariat provided office space and services for diplomatic missions of small states and regional organisations representing small states in Geneva and New York. The facilities provided by the Secretariat enabled small states to participate in international decision-making processes and dialogues. Two human rights experts based in the Geneva Office provided advisory services and technical assistance to small states participating in discussions and decision-making processes in Geneva and facilitated dedicated briefing sessions for small states on human rights mechanisms.
Delegates from small states called for international recognition of their vulnerabilities and targeted responses to their specific challenges at the Commonwealth Conference on Financing for Development in Small States in Barbados in March 2015. The conference was attended by senior officials from ministries of finance and representatives from national, regional and international organisations and helped prepare delegations for the UN’s Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2015.
In May 2015, the Secretariat supported rule of law experts from small Commonwealth countries to attend intergovernmental negotiations on the Post- 2015 Development Agenda in New York.