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Commonwealth Day messages

11 March 2013
Head of the Commonwealth, HM Queen Elizabeth II, and Commonwealth Secretary-General on this year's Commonwealth theme: 'Opportunity through Enterprise'

HM Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth

This year’s Commonwealth theme, ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’, is a celebration of our achievements, particularly those that may have seemed challenging, daunting or even impossible, which have helped to build strength, resilience and pride in our young people, in our communities and in our nations.

Great achievements in human history have a number of common characteristics. From climbing the highest mountain, to winning a sporting competition, making a scientific breakthrough, building a successful business or discovering unique artistic talent – these outcomes all begin as a simple goal or idea in one person’s mind.

We are all born with the desire to learn, to explore, to try new things. And each of us can think of occasions when we have been inspired to do something more efficiently, or to assist others in achieving their full potential. Yet it still takes courage to launch into the unknown. Ambition and curiosity open new avenues of opportunity.

That is what lies at the heart of our Commonwealth approach: individuals and communities finding ways to strive together to create a better future that is beneficial for all.

Our shared values of peace, democracy, development, justice and human rights – which are found in our new ‘Commonwealth Charter’ – mean that we place special emphasis on including everyone in this goal, especially those who are vulnerable.

I am reminded of the adage, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. As we reflect on how the Commonwealth theme applies to us individually, let us think about what can be gained with a bold heart, dedication, and teamwork. And let us bear in mind the great opportunity that is offered by the Commonwealth – of joining with others, stronger together, for the common good.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma

The Commonwealth is a unique enterprise. As a family of 54 independent nations, we unite around shared values and principles. We work together to open up new prospects for individuals and communities, and through national, regional, and international endeavour.

Commitment to common goals brings collective gain. By creating opportunities together, and using the talents of all, we achieve mutual benefit. The potency of individual drive, allied to team spirit, and the possibilities offered through the connections of our worldwide network, are what we seek to express in our 2013 Commonwealth theme: ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’.

This theme is of course addressed to all in the Commonwealth, but particularly to the young of our ever younger Commonwealth family. It challenges us all to harness the vast and distinctive potential of youth as nation builders, and to encourage them to grasp opportunity through personal creativity, energy and enterprise. It reminds us of the need to build strong political, economic and social structures that support young people in realising their aspirations.

Commonwealth Day 2013 is a very special day in our history. On behalf of the two billion citizens of the Commonwealth – a third of the population of the world – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, will sign the new Charter of the Commonwealth at Marlborough House in London on Monday, 11 March. Adopted by the Heads of Government of all our member states on 14 December 2012, the Charter sets out the core values and principles of the Commonwealth. They include democracy, development, human rights, freedom of expression, protecting the environment, and gender equality.

Experience of what can be accomplished for the common good by working within the framework of these values and principles is what continues to inspire and motivate the modern Commonwealth. Innovative ideas, carried forward with determination and energy, open up pathways of progress and prosperity.

Our Commonwealth approach aims to extend to all, without discrimination, the opportunities and dividends that flow from economic and social development. Respect and understanding for the dignity of every human being, and the value of what each can contribute, lead us to strive for all to be accorded the scope for shared enterprise and individual achievement.

On Commonwealth Day 2013, let us think of how, using the power of Commonwealth connections and our own personal contributions, we can multiply the opportunities and work together dynamically to build a future that is more equitable and inclusive.