As Commonwealth Secretary-General it has been my privilege in the past eight years to visit every one of our 53 member states. I have seen the attraction of the Commonwealth connection: the exceptional regard that it enjoys, and the sense of kinship and affinity that informs it. There is a bond within the Commonwealth that sets us apart.
Partnership based on shared Commonwealth values and principles, especially mutual respect, is treasured. The Commonwealth sets a high premium on being inclusive - our theme for the year - and on being all-embracing and leaving no one behind, whether nationally or globally. The Commonwealth is particularly affirming and encouraging of our young citizens as nation builders.
The Commonwealth provides avenues for working together that help the larger family of Commonwealth organisations, which is unique in its richness and in its contribution and diversity. We are now bound closer together in practical ways in our shared aspirations. In many different ways, and at many different levels, ideas and knowledge are shared in the Commonwealth family across the globe in a spirit of goodwill and partnership.
Taking strength from its diversity, the Commonwealth succeeds in creating common ground on which to stand together in answering the challenges of our times. Mutual support, with respect and understanding for the dignity and contribution of all, gives potency to the acclaimed convening power of the Commonwealth. The Charter of the Commonwealth now embodies our high and shared purpose.
Globalisation, the digital revolution and interdependence make us both a rapidly compacting but also colliding world. The strengths of the Commonwealth were never needed more to assert fairness in global outcomes and trust in the richness of our human identities.
The creation of the modern Commonwealth was one of the greatest acts of statesmanship and collective faith of the twentieth century. It has justified this faith by the wisdom and contribution it has brought to the world we share. Its credo of unity in diversity makes it a template for the world and gives it its healing touch.
Above all, the core conviction of the Commonwealth is that the human community is indivisible and all societies, irrespective of size and endowment, have an equal right to a place in the sun. The eagle, to soar, needs all its feathers.