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Building better partnerships with civil society to affect change

28 November 2015

Commonwealth foreign ministers and civil society organisations came together today for a roundtable discussion to raise priority issues and strengthen partnerships. The session took place during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta.

Participants raised issues with the aim of promoting dialogue. The first session was led by the Commonwealth Associated Organisations, which includes the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Opening the roundtable, Dr Carl Wright, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum said: “It is our view that Associated Organisations can contribute to a joined-up Commonwealth response to advancing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, and that such an implementation needs to be based on a bottom-up not top-down approach to sustainable development.”

Responding to comments about creating initiatives to promote and protect LGBTI rights, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Josephine Ojiambo stated that the Commonwealth needs to “engage more clearly” and support programmes of work in this area and other priority areas, such as gender-based violence and child marriage.

“The Commonwealth Secretariat has been speaking out about equality and discrimination by working with parliamentarians and national human rights institutions. We are fusing concepts of civil society into governance structures,” said Dr Ojiambo.

Civil society representatives shared the outcome statement from the People’s Forum – Malta Declaration on Governance for Resilience. The result of two-day discussions among civil society, the declaration states: “The diversity of civil society organisations across the Commonwealth offers invaluable opportunities to re-think hegemonic and oppressive that hinder societal resilience, offering the opportunity for people across the Commonwealth to work together towards more equitable societies”.

Commonwealth Deputy Secretaries-General Dr Ojiambo and Deodat Maharaj presented Adding Global Value, a report highlighting Commonwealth initiatives that have brought about positive change. It is also the theme of this year’s Commonwealth leaders’ summit, which has placed emphasis on concrete and tangible actions to tackle global issues, namely climate change, security, migration and violent extremism.

“I am passionate and excited about the results we have achieved as a relatively small development organisation,” said Mr Maharaj, presenting a copy of the report. He noted the Commonwealth’s leadership in championing the interests of small states and its long-running youth programme that enables young people to have a say in decision-making processes.

“There is a lot more we can do to achieve clear and specific results through our membership so we can continue to add global value,” Mr Maharaj concluded. 

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