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CHOGM 2011 Concluding Press Conference

30 October 2011
Speaker: Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma / Location: Perth, Australia

This CHOGM will be remembered as the CHOGM of reform, renewal and resilience. And in the Commonwealth’s way, the ambition levels have been high, the expectations high, and the results are there to match. The Commonwealth walks with its eyes on the horizon and with practical toolkits in its hands, and we have seen evidence of that this week.

The upgrading of CMAG is of tremendous significance. There is agreement to lift the bar. We will, of course, continue to be an organisation that finds its own way of doing things to ensure that CMAG can engage earlier and constructively in future.

The Eminent Persons Group report was given the closest possible scrutiny by officials, Ministers and Heads. Around one third of the recommendations have been adopted this weekend. Almost two thirds will be looked at in more detail with a clear timeframe for doing that. The Group was not asked to provide a blue-print but options for reform...it is very encouraging that so many of the options have been so swiftly adopted.

One of the major outcomes of the EPG’s efforts has been agreement to develop a Charter. And, importantly, as the Group itself recommended, there will be consultation in member countries organised by member governments to ensure that this Charter is owned by the people. The recommended Commissioner was not adopted, but the reasons for that are clear: the Group recommended it as a mechanism to support CMAG and the Secretary-General; now that CMAG has been lifted up, the type of role needs to be re-examined. The objective has not been lost, but a way is to be found to deliver it that reflects the new reality on the ground.

The Perth Declaration on Food Security was another major outcome. The Commonwealth voice, and our shared perspectives will be heard and can be expected with confidence to be reflected in the outcomes of the forthcoming climate change conference in Durban and next year’s Rio+20 summit.

The concerns of our young people have been given their rightful place at the heart of engagement by Heads. This morning over breakfast they took part in a dynamic dialogue with representatives of the Commonwealth Youth Forum. Heads accepted the Eminent Persons Group recommendation that the Commonwealth Youth programme should be encouraged to develop a constitution that will help form an independent and youth-led Commonwealth Youth Council to become the recognised voice of youth in the Commonwealth.

In this year of Women as Agents of Change the panel discussion that took place here this week on the theme: Empowering Women to Lead is worthy of note, it is the first time an event relating specifically to the theme of advancing the role of women has been convened in conjunction with CHOGM.

I wish to pay tribute to the skilful and most effective chairing of this summit by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, as well as the enormous contribution of Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. They have led and they have delivered an exceptional CHOGM – it is a landmark CHOGM.

Finally, I am deeply appreciative of the confidence shown in me by leaders in appointing me to serve this Great Global Good for a further term. I look forward with enthusiasm and commitment to doing so.