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GBR | Sep 9, 2023

Baroness Patricia Scotland | Through unity we can overcome our current strife

/ Our Today

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Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland.

Today’s world, of ever-increasing connections, and grave economic, environmental and security crises spanning global systems, insists that we are dependent on each other. 

Our history shows us that we work together, with all our shared humanity, or we suffer in isolation.

The capacity to unite behind the moral force of our principles, and the power of our practical purpose, is the foundation and beauty of the modern Commonwealth.

Our 56 independent sovereign states, stretched across five continents and home to one-third of humanity, combine a quality of ingenuity and drive which enabled India to put a spacecraft on the moon, with the collective will to stand together in the face of climate change, instability and economic strife. 

These challenges loom large over the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The world is under pressure, and people are looking to its leaders for action.

In the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, the citizens of the Commonwealth can be assured that our foreign affairs ministers, and our environment ministers, will meet to deepen their commitment to action on the threats to resilience and sustainability in our member states, and the wider world. 

A general view of an emergency special session of the U.N. General Assembly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S. April 7, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File)

They will continue to advance our innovative programmes such as the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub – which has unlocked more than $310 million in vital support for the countries which need it most – while intensifying calls for reform in global development finance to equip the most vulnerable nations with the resources they need to tackle the long-term impacts of environmental breakdown.

And they will pool their collective strength, innovative spirit, and common purpose to enable the whole Commonwealth to tackle shared challenges, deepen our trade advantage, and harness the power of digitalisation to transform public services for the better.

Their efforts will seek to bridge the gap between rhetoric and implementation, deepening the alliances which transcend borders and self-interest, and advance the vital work to build a resilient and sustainable future for all.

In doing so, they will set the stage for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Samoa in October 2024.

The road to CHOGM 2024 will start in New York and arrive in Apia via all the great capitals of our Commonwealth family. And while we can never underplay the scale of the challenges we face, the fact that the Commonwealth nations sit together as partners with an equal voice and an equal stake in a shared mission means that we approach them – like India’s space mission – with the mindset of what is possible. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Britain’s Prince Charles, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, and Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah attend the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Kigali Convention Centre in Kigali, Rwanda June 24, 2022. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Pool via REUTERS/File)

As we gather at the United Nations this month, our Commonwealth nations, spanning continents and cultures, bring together a remarkable blend of ingenuity and determination. We are never just observers; we are active participants, ready to tackle the urgent issues of our time. Our ministers will gather to reaffirm our dedication to resilience, sustainability, and equitable development. We will act to bridge the gap between words and deeds, working together to build a better future.

In October next year, when our heads of government meet in Samoa, we know that our strength will be in our unity. Progress is always difficult, and the challenges we face sometimes seem insurmountable, but we know that through the Commonwealth, and our unwavering commitment to unity and collective action, we shall prevail.


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