The British High Commission in Lilongwe on Monday, 29 April 2019, held a reception to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the foundation of the Commonwealth, an important milestone for the 53-member grouping that falls during UK’s term as Commonwealth Chair-in-office.
Addressing guests at the reception, the British High Commission Chargé D’Affaires, Gary Leslie, said the UK will continue to be an activist, responsible Chair-in-Office, committed to strengthening and renewing the Commonwealth, through its three pillars—the Commonwealth Secretariat, the member states and Commonwealth organisations and networks.
Chargé d’affaires Gary Leslie said:
The Commonwealth is home to 2.4 billion people – a third of the world’s population – 60% of whom are under the age of 30. We represent a quarter of the membership of the United Nations and 30% of the WTO. We are a unique voluntary association of nation states encompassing extraordinary wide geographic, cultural, ethnic and economic diversity.
He added that the UK will work with member states to ensure the Commonwealth realises its full potential by promoting democratic values and development, increasing trade, amplifying voices of small states, and tackling global challenges such as extremism and climate change.
Regarding the forthcoming tripartite elections, Leslie said following UK’s announcement in September last year of £1.8 million to support the Commonwealth electoral observation programme, the Commonwealth will deliver a mission in Malawi in May as it has recently done in two other countries.
For his part, Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Emmanuel Fabiano, said the Commonwealth has been an important grouping for Malawi in areas of education, trade and promotion of good governance as member states are voluntarily bound by the shared values and aspirations as set out in the Commonwealth Charter.
Honourable Fabiano added:
The Commonwealth has 53 members and Malawi is one of them. The principle of the Commonwealth is that member countries will benefit from any member of the Commonwealth. So, it’s about all members of the Commonwealth being equal and having a common interest. For example, on scholarships as one of the activities, every member of the Commonwealth such as Canada, Australia New Zealand will offer scholarships to members of the Commonwealth and the members will apply and they get those scholarships to go and study.
Fabiano, on commenting about the impending Commonwealth Observer Mission, said the 2019 Tripartite Elections will be one of the most peaceful elections in Malawi.
The 1949 London Declaration established the modern Commonwealth – a voluntary partnerships of equal member countries, with common values and shared aspirations. From the eight countries that signed the Declaration in 1949, there are now 53 member countries of the Commonwealth with over 2.4 billion people, a third of the world’s population.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of British High Commission – Lilongwe.