The Commonwealth can be a “catalyst” for building a global coalition to counter extremism and support rights and justice, says Dr Kamal Hossain, a renowned Bangladeshi jurist and former foreign minister.
Dr Hossain, co-author of the landmark Commonwealth report, ‘Civil Paths to Peace’, called on Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland at Marlborough House in London on 24 November.
In a wide-ranging discussion covering Commonwealth efforts to combat radicalisation, injustice and climate change, and empower young people, Dr Hossain said he was encouraged by the leadership shown by Secretary-General Scotland.
“The Commonwealth is in a unique position to coordinate and orchestrate these efforts and to be a catalyst for change,” he said. “The cause is universal: for justice, education, rights and recognition of values.”
Dr Kamal Hossain was former Minister of Foreign Affairs for Bangladesh and one of the principal authors of his country’s national constitution.
As a member of the Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding, chaired by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, he produced the ‘Civil Paths to Peace’ report, which examined terrorism, extremism, conflict and violence. The report recommends new forms of political participation, an emphasis on non-sectarian education, and greater support to young people.
“It is the youth who will make a difference because their future is at stake,” said Dr Hossain, who acknowledged that there is a “deep-rooted yearning” for change among many young people.
The Commonwealth, which encompasses 52 countries with a population of more than two billion, is well placed to bring together countries, organisations and individuals to counter rising intolerance and extremism, he said.
“The candle has been lit by the Commonwealth. The more candles that are lit, the easier it will be to move away from darkness towards the light,” he added.
Secretary-General Scotland thanked Dr Hossain for his many years of service to the Commonwealth and for his warm words and encouragement of her work to revitalise the organisation.
“With 60 percent of our population in the Commonwealth being under the age of 30, there is a real need for us to make a difference and give those people hope, aspiration and inspiration,” she said.