Turning the page at the start of a New Year opens our imagination to the promise of a new chapter waiting to be written.
Our Commonwealth experience is of a continuing narrative, drawing on our rich inheritances and what is best from the past, and yet constantly refreshed by inspired and pioneering thinking, and innovative practical action.
It is also a story we write together, weaving together strands of experience and wisdom from many traditions.
In 2016 we have been reminded of the strength and benefits we gain as members of ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’. For 2017 we commit to working together as ‘A peace-building Commonwealth’.
That 52 member states of such varied size, culture, history and geographical location should choose to come together voluntarily in a spirit of trust and goodwill is cause for well-founded hope.
That they should freely commit to building and acting together for a safer future and the common good gives rise to sturdy optimism – which is sorely needed in this fragile and turbulent world
We work to build societies in which democracy, human rights and the rule of law, together with the development of wealth and security, nestle happily together in harmonious accord.
Much of the Commonwealth story we shall write over the coming year will be devoted to important new work in strengthening the foundations on which peace can be built.
One priority will be tackling violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence – which is the root cause of so much unhappiness and in our communities and disaffection in wider society.
Another will be countering violent extremism, and finding ways in which through respect and understanding we can overcome the causes of disillusion and alienation that lead to repression, division and marginalisation of minority groups.
We shall also continue our work to find new ways of eradicating the scourge of corruption and fraud.
When trust is abused or betrayed in public life, commerce or sport, our Commonwealth values of fairness and inclusiveness are undermined, and the most vulnerable and needy people of the world are deprived of opportunities to fulfil their potential and live in dignity.
Let us join together this New Year, and through the months ahead, in a spirit of peace and goodwill to ring out the old, ring in the new, ring out the false, ring in the true.