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In their own words: How the Commonwealth makes a difference

13 March 2017

No-one explains the Commonwealth Secretariat’s role in advancing peace, democracy and development better than the individuals and organisations who experience our work first-hand.

We are pleased to share a selection of testimonies from some of our partners and observers:

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"The work of the Commonwealth in, inter alia, supporting free and fair electoral processes; building capacity in public institutions; and promoting participatory governance by including all actors, in particular civil society, women and young people, can be seen as a direct contribution to peacebuilding. Furthermore, the Commonwealth has demonstrable experience in capacity building and technical cooperation, with a particular focus on small states." - Trinidad and Tobago's Foreign Minister Senator Dennis Moses

“Over the years, the Commonwealth has worked arduously to increase the awareness of the vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and remains at the head of policy research and advocacy to assist small states, such as Tonga, to build resilience, access financing, alleviate debt burdens and devise strategies to respond to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.” - Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Siaosi Sovaleni

“The organisation has committed itself to promoting democracy among its member nations by monitoring infringements in democratic rule and by assisting state institutions in remaining accountable and transparent… Jamaica has benefited tremendously from the Commonwealth’s peace-building initiatives, through, inter alia, the training of election officials, legislative drafting as well as technical assistance in the proposed establishment of a national human rights institution.” - Kamina Johnson Smith, Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade

“We honour the critical role that the Commonwealth continues to play in the development of our country, and its paramount importance as an organisation whose member nations share common values and principles… We also endeavour to continue, at the local level and at international fora, to stress our support for the Commonwealth's primary focus of promoting peace, democracy, good governance, human rights and the rule of law… Seychelles is pleased to have been able to share its experiences in our areas of strength, and even more so, grateful for the assistance and knowledge that has been shared with us in areas where we lacked capacity.” – President of Seychelles, Danny Faure

“The Commonwealth is a champion of democracy, freedom, sustainable development, the rule of law, and human rights, especially the rights of women and girls. As a member of the Commonwealth, Canada remains committed to protecting and promoting these values.” - Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau

“Commonwealth ideals and principles aim at promoting international peace, security and understanding. Towards this end, the association provides channels for member countries and their peoples to interact, cooperate and work together to eliminate wars, fight diseases, poverty and hunger, wipe out ignorance and illiteracy, promote democracy, protect the environment and inculcate respect for human rights, human dignity and human values.” - Nigeria’s Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu

“We in St Kitts and Nevis have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to count on numerous Commonwealth observer missions in the past when elections were conducted in the country and we are indeed grateful for the advice, and insight as to how we can continue to improve our electoral practices and procedures. St Kitts Nevis nationals continue to benefit from scholarships and training opportunities not only offered by the Commonwealth, but by individual member countries with whom we share cordial relations.”- Foreign Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Daniel Brantley

“The Commonwealth has played a catalytic role in strengthening society’s capacity to manage disparity and diversity through its emphasis on the shared values and principles as enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter, its Good Offices role, various programmes and activities as well as assistance in building democratic institutions, good governance, credible and transparent elections.” – Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wisma Putra

"We are in a time when we need more unity. Communality and respect for others runs through all youth work - and the Commonwealth seems to have that at its heart" - Robin Lockhart, the founder of a social enterprise which supports at-risk teenagers and young adults through music and sport, who was named Commonwealth Youth Worker of the Year 2016. More

“Guyana has enjoyed decades of tremendous history and close cooperation with the Commonwealth as a member of the community and partner in development. The Commonwealth’s support for Guyana must be lauded, particularly for the impact made on governance, youth development, environmental stewardship and natural resources management.” Raphael G.C. Trotman, Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources

“The Commonwealth played a very important role… in making the Paris Agreement possible. The clear messages by the meeting of the heads of state and government from the Commonwealth just before the Paris conference was a very important impulse” - Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on how the world achieved the landmark climate change agreement to limit carbon emissions. More

“For an organisation that has sometimes appeared to be searching for a purpose, it may now be finding one – as a pioneer for the game-changing solutions some of its 52 members are desperately crying out for” - The Guardian commenting on the Commonwealth’s work to find innovative solutions to the challenge of climate change. More

“As a newly established independent electoral authority, with no experience and a general election around the corner, it was felt that the Commonwealth might be in a better position to assist the commission considering its wide experience and credibility in strengthening the democratic process in member countries” – Nauru’s first Electoral Commissioner, Joseph Cain, on why the Commonwealth Secretariat was approached to help establish his country’s election commission. More

“Vanuatu is a young country that is still developing its democracy. With the help from the Commonwealth and others, we will see Vanuatu’s democracy become stronger and stable” - Father Charles Vatu, Vanuatu's Principal Elections Officer on the support the Commonwealth Secretariat provided to implement election reforms. More

“One unexpected outcome of last week is the emergence of the Commonwealth as a potential major player in providing support to reforming governments, such as Nigeria’s, to stifle abuses. Baroness Scotland, the secretary general of the Commonwealth, is perceived to have a deep commitment to waging war on corruption. By a strange quirk of history, perhaps the London summit will be best remembered for giving the Commonwealth a new lease of life.” - The Times newspaper following the landmark Tackling Corruption Together conference hosted by the Commonwealth. More

“The Commonwealth is a unique group of nations united by a willingness to collaborate for a common good: a ‘common wealth’” - Dr Daniel Wahl, member of a group of leading biologists, ecologists, oceanographers and authorities convened by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland to examine solutions to climate change. More

“This unique constellation of 52 nations may be evolving, as some participants concluded, into the world’s leading ‘impact bloc’.” - John Elkington, a leading sustainability expert. More

Commonwealth Day 2017