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Landmark CHOGM on reform, renewal and resilience – Commonwealth Secretary-General

26 October 2011
Australian Foreign Minister says Perth summit will revitalise Commonwealth

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said he was looking forward to a landmark Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia, from 28 to 30 October in respect of its emphasis on reform, renewal and resilience.

Speaking at a pre-CHOGM Foreign Ministers Meeting press conference in Perth on 26 October 2011, Mr Sharma said: "The CHOGM theme is Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience, which points to the inter-connectiveness of the two and also to the fact that a series of crises have impacted upon the member states of the Commonwealth as to the rest of the world. The aim [of CHOGM] is for heads [of government] to be free for in-depth engagement on a wider stage.”

Mr Sharma also spoke on two reports due to be presented to leaders in Perth which were mandated by Commonwealth leaders when they last met in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in November 2009. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) report is the product of intergovernmental discussion and recommends ways in which CMAG – a representative group of nine foreign ministers charged with protecting the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values against serious or persistent violations – can be more proactive and positive.

The Eminent Persons Group (EPG), comprising ten distinguished independent Commonwealth personalities, has submitted a report offering 106 recommendations on sharpening the impact, strengthening the networks and raising the profile of the Commonwealth.

Heads of Government will be asked to consider proposals in both reports for reform and renewal of the Commonwealth as an association fit for purpose in the twenty-first century.

Mr Sharma added: “The aim of reform is to strengthen the culture of democracy and advance resilience and sustainable development, and embrace and celebrate diversity.”

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd, who also addressed the joint news conference, said the issues to be tabled at CHOGM are critical for member countries.

“Our discussions here in Perth will focus on some of the most serious challenges facing individual Commonwealth nations as well,” he said. “We'll also focus our efforts on revitalising the Commonwealth's development priorities to ensure it effectively meets the needs of member states both today and into the future.

"We, as a Commonwealth of nations, need to take the opportunity presented by this gathering in Perth to build greater resilience to economic shocks; to build greater resilience to the impacts of climate change; to build greater resilience to the looming challenges of food security; and to build greater democratic resilience in a world where democracy continues to be under challenge."