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Working together the only viable way forward, says Secretary-General

18 June 2021

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has set out how an agile Secretariat has managed to support multilateral cooperation between member countries in the face of multiple challenges.

In a keynote address to the Middle Temple Inn of Courton Monday 14 June, Patricia Scotland revealed the strategies the Commonwealth Secretariat has employed to maintain the development and delivery of values to institutions and communities.

In her lecture “From vision to delivery; the Commonwealth fit for the 21st century” the Secretary-General explained how the Commonwealth had become a model for the thorough patterns and processes necessary for multilateral cooperation, how different approaches can be taken, and how the world can organise to enable the voices of all groups and nations to be heard.

She said: “Indeed, the Commonwealth as it is now was born after a time of awful conflict out of a collective investment in something new. It was established by a generation who, having spent blood and treasure in the global conflict of the Second World War, saw that equality and partnership could offer a new and more hopeful future.

“They understood that the old ways of domination by a few would only lead us to more conflict, and so in the foundation of the Commonwealth after the war invested in a new and more equal model.

“Our rootedness in equality, our insistence that all voices are listened to no matter their size has meant that we have been alive to the challenges we all face way before many larger and more encumbered international organisations are able to act.”

Describing how climatic crisis and COVID-19 have impacted lives and livelihoods around the world, the Secretary-General said the crises have stripped away many of the world’s pretences of independence and demonstrated our interdependence.

She said: “COVID-19 variants are far and away the biggest menace to our future prosperity and health - and a threat that can only be dealt with together.”

Looking ahead to the day the world finally overcomes the pandemic, the Secretary-General said: "We must not fall back into the old patterns of the large dominating the small or the affluent ignoring the concerns of the poorer.

“Not just because we see the injustice in this, but because the last year has taught us that it is actually against the best interests of the strong to ignore the plight of the more vulnerable.”

The Secretary-General also commended the Middle Temple in its support for equality and diversity:

She said: “Like the Commonwealth, Middle Temple has a proud history of supporting equality and diversity and I want to take a moment to commend the Masters for their ongoing commitment to uphold the values upon which the Inn was built."

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