Secretary-General Patricia Scotland underscored the importance of Commonwealth collaboration in delivering progress and bridging socioeconomic gaps to ensure common prosperity among the 53-member states, during her lecture at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
The theme of the lecture was "Commonwealth – renewal and focus for the future", and it was attended by scholars, students, senior officials, High Commissioners and other members of the wider policy community.
The Secretary-General spoke about the work of the Secretariat, the outcomes of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018, youth empowerment and sport for development.
Describing the Commonwealth as a 'unifier' in pursuit of a common future, the Secretary-General stressed that it was the cooperation among member countries which helped to bring a greater degree of certainty, stability and inclusiveness to an increasingly divided world.
“We have large countries, small countries, landlocked countries, all of us are a section of the global community, and therefore if we, the Commonwealth, can come together and agree, it creates a pathway for others perhaps to agree also,” said the Secretary-General.
“Trust and goodwill are strengthened by our practice of making decisions by consensus, not by vote. This means that there no winners and no losers; outcomes and agreement are owned by all.”
The Secretary-General dubbed “youth” as an important area of Commonwealth focus and collaboration, noting that 60 per cent of the Commonwealth was under the age of 30.
Calling youth as a source of “inspiration”, she said, “The inspiration that I gain from just being around our Commonwealth young people is just extraordinary. Having the privilege to study in this university is just a start, but I know that what you will achieve, not just for Brunei but for our Commonwealth, is going to be quite extraordinary.”
Recognising Brunei's support for Commonwealth collaboration, the Secretary-General thanked the country for hosting a Commonwealth third country training programme. “I acknowledge the immensely important contribution made by this university and other academic institutions in this country through the Brunei Darussalam Commonwealth Third-Country Training Programme,” she said. “The programme has been particularly valuable in building the capacity of Pacific Island member states, and is a fine and most commendable example of how Commonwealth countries can work collaboratively towards our shared objectives.”
Secretary-General Scotland noted that the university’s motto “Towards Human Excellence” holds the same values and principles as those enshrined in this year’s CHOGM theme “Towards a Common Future”. Both themes, she said, set the aspiration to work together for a fairer, more secure, more prosperous and more sustainable future.
The Secretary-General highlighted the new Commonwealth Innovation Hub, an online platform which centralises the cutting-edge work being carried out by member countries.