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HE George Vella, President of Malta, addressing CIDP participants

Commonwealth diplomatic course hailed as ‘timely’ and ‘illuminating’

12 November 2020

A specialised course for diplomats has highlighted the Commonwealth’s essential role on the global stage, with delegates commending its timely focus on international cooperation in a post-COVID world.

More than 70 participants from across the Commonwealth – three times the usual number – took part in the annual Commonwealth Diplomats Induction Programme (CDIP), delivered virtually last week.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “As we face this global pandemic, it becomes ever more crucial to strengthen our resolve to work together as a Commonwealth family of nations.

“The Commonwealth Diplomats Induction Programme seeks to bolster that commitment to multilateralism, strengthen our precious networks and support participants in honing their craft to respond to a changing global environment.”

In particular, she applauded the contributions of Assistant Secretary-General Nabeel Goheer, who has steered the programme for the past 10 years.

Positive feedback

This year’s event, which included rare interactive sessions with leaders such as President George Vella of Malta and former Prime Minister of Finland Alexander Stubb, has since received enthusiastic reviews.

Martin Owuor, a counsellor at the Kenyan High Commission in London said: “The induction was more than timely. It gave me useful insights on the Commonwealth as an organisation, its modus operandi, the invaluable nature of its accredited organisations, and how, as diplomats, we can utilise the networks to project and protect the interests of our respective countries whilst promoting multilateralism.”

Doug Wills, editor of the Evening Standard and Chairman of the London Press Club added: “I found the programme illuminating and helpful - particularly with my recent appointment as a Rotary Representative. I know it will be a huge benefit to have had this first-hand view of seeing and hearing the issues facing the Commonwealth and the diplomatic world in these strangest of times.”

The course ran from the 3rd to the 5th of November, opened by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the UK’s Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, and the High Commissioner of St Kitts and Nevis and Chair of the Commonwealth Secretariat Board of Governors, Kevin Isaac.

A line up of distinguished speakers led a wide range of seminars, including UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General Fabrizio Hochschild, digital diplomacy expert at Oxford University, Prof Corneliu Bjola, former UK politician Lord Howell of Guildford, and UN Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action Selwin Hart, among others.

Discussions covered how to leverage the Commonwealth’s convening power to tackle global crises, the impact of technology and virtual diplomacy, new challenges to multilateralism in the 21st century, and supporting small states.

Commonwealth collaboration

The programme was organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat in collaboration with the Commonwealth Foundation and Commonwealth of Learning. Feedback from participants will feed into refining next year’s edition.

Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation, Anna Gallagher, said: “There can be no doubt that the Commonwealth has a vital, irreplaceable role to play in our fractured and precious world. The diplomats induction programme helps forge the vision and sense of community that is critical to the Commonwealth's relevance and its future prosperity.”

President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, Asha Kanwar, added: “The programme symbolises Commonwealth cooperation as the three intergovernmental organisations work together to ensure that the event highlights the diversity and value of our Commonwealth. Collaboration is the way forward in a post-pandemic world.”

For more information, contact [email protected] . Participation in the Commonwealth Diplomats Induction Programme is possible via nomination by member governments or accredited organisations.

Main image: HE George Vella, President of Malta, addressing CIDP participants