After the games: 20 ideas for a Commonwealth fit for the 21st century

A new vision is needed for a modern Commonwealth fit for the 21st century.

A new vision is needed for a modern Commonwealth fit for the 21st century

Following the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, it’s obvious that many people will be asking questions about the Commonwealth and its relevance for the future.

The Commonwealth is at the cross-road of its history as the organisation is now facing many global challenges on human rights – especially the rights for the minorities, women rights, LGBT and gender inequalities.

There is also debt, youth unemployment, children rights, healthcare and fighting diseases, trade, poverty and malnutrition, universal education and also issues about security and the environment.

In order to address these challenges, a new vision and direction for a modern Commonwealth fit for purpose for the 21st century is needed. This is why there is an urgent need for a reform agenda to get a new Draft Commonwealth Charter.

Therefore, I urge Commonwealth countries, Commonwealth Heads of governments, Commonwealth foreign affairs ministers, Commonwealth finance ministers, the Commonwealth secretariat and Commonwealth citizens to:

1) Increase bilateral, diplomatic and multilateral co-operation between Commonwealth countries.

2) Promote free trade and increase Commercial Exchanges and promote investment and business opportunities between Commonwealth countries.

3) Create a Commonwealth Development Bank to alleviate poverty in Commonwealth developing countries.

4) Take a collective interests in the debt challenges facing developing Commonwealth States.

5) Press the five Commonwealth members of the G20 to advocate for the Commonwealth’s perspectives and policy proposals on debt, even cancellation of foreign debts.

6) Press the Secretariat to establish a mechanism, so that progress on debt issues, including from financial institutions is tracked.

7) Boost an inter-commonwealth trade.

8) Reform the Commonwealth Youth Programme and support the creation of the Commonwealth Youth Corps (CYC), the creation of a Commonwealth Youth Development Fund (CYDF) to which youth across the Commonwealth could apply for funding for entrepreneurship in their communities and also establishing National Youth Councils.

9) Appoint a Commonwealth Commissioner for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

10) Establish and strengthen National Human Rights Institutions in accordance with the UN-adopted Paris Principles.

11) Empower women and press all Commonwealth organisations to review their governance arrangements and ensure that women are included as decision-makers.

12) Combat diseases and tackle malaria and ensure that HIV/AIDS is prominent in the agendas of all relevant Commonwealth meetings, including those of law Ministers, Health Ministers, Ministers for Women’s Affairs and Youth Ministers.

13) Set up biennial separate meetings like G8 meetings for Commonwealth Finance, Trade, Foreign Affairs and Environment Ministers to focus more and improve co-operation on finance, trade, foreign affairs and the environment within the Commonwealth.

14) Lobby Commonwealth countries and Commonwealth Heads of Governments to proceed with a reform agenda and support more financing for the Secretariat.

15) Support the Commonwealth Business Council to expand its links and networks within Commonwealth countries to boost opportunities for investments, trade and businesses for common-trade, common-growth and common-wealth.

16) Support universal education and invest in primary, secondary and university education; and allow exchange of teachers and free movement of teachers, academics, university researchers and professors within Commonwealth countries.

17) Push for closer regional and international co-operation within the Commonwealth through increased co-operation between the Commonwealth and the following bodies: UN, EU, African Union, East African Community, SADC, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, IMF, World Bank, UNICEF, FAO, World Trade Organisation and World Health Organisation.

18) Support peacekeeping soldiers from Commonwealth countries for UN Peacekeeping Missions.

19) Increase co-operation between Commonwealth countries on tackling together global and regional security threats (Commonwealth Defence Ministers to meet to share intelligence on defence).

20) Unite efforts to combat climate change, illegal logging and deforestation and also tackle illegal exploitation of natural resources destroying the environment and fuelling conflicts.

As we are reminded to uphold Commonwealth values of democratic freedom and economic and social development, let us all celebrate our diversities and continue working hard to achieve equalities for a better future for the Commonwealth.

Jean-Roger Kaseki is councillor in the London Borough of Islington. He is also associate of the Human Rights & Social Justice Research Institute/ London Metropolitan University 

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4 Responses to “After the games: 20 ideas for a Commonwealth fit for the 21st century”

  1. Paul Richardson

    Great vision for the Commonwealth going forward. Good Commonwealth goals outlined in this extraordinary article. Well done for mentioning the cancellation of foreign debts for poor and heavily indebted African, Caribbean and Pacific Commonwealth countries to alleviate poverty. Boosting Inter-Commonwealth trade is a genius idea, especially boosting agricultural trade to address food shortages and malnutrition in developing Commonwealth countries. Strengthening global co-operation to tackle global challenges, especially global security threats such as growing terrorism and jihadism is imperative to ensure global security and peace. Commonwealth reforms vital. Great ideas and visionary thoughts for a great Commonwealth of nations capable of dealing with the 21st century’s challenges. Historic ideas

  2. Susan O'Brian

    Many thanks Jean-Roger for highlighting human rights issues and for proposing how to address these huge human rights challenges for the Commonwealth on strengthen human rights mechanisms through reinforcing or establishing human rights institutions and also appointing a Commonwealth Commissioner for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This is fantastic idea as the Commonwealth is an association of 53 independent states promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law. I agree that this is why countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan Republic, Algeria and others are willing to join the Commonwealth of Nations. I absolutely agree with Commonwealth reforms proposed here as we need a modern Commonwealth fit to address the new global challenges facing the world

  3. David Howard

    Boosting Commonwealth businesses, trade, talent, education and empowering women is key to having a strong Commonwealth. I like this article as the Commonwealth is a family of nations with developed and developing coutries and among them poor and small countries as well. The Commonwealth represents over 2 billion people which is one third of the world’s population and over half of them are young people under the age of 25. With new emerging economic countries, the Commonwealth should be able to allow its member States to compete economically and financially in the 21st century. Facts on global flows on businesses from the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC): 1) $26 trillion flow of goods, services and finance in 2012 equal to 36% of Global GDP 2) Up to $450 billion added to Global GDP growth each year by flows and 40% more benefit for the most connected countries than the least connected 3) 63% of global goods flows through the top 50 routes in 1990 down to 54% in 2011 4) 18-fold increase in cross-border internet traffic between 2005 and 2012 5) 38% of total cross-border flows of goods, services and finance from emerging economies in 2012 up from 14% in 1990 6) Up to $85 trillion flow of goods, services and finance by 2025, three times the value in 2012 7) 500% increase in international Skype call minutes since 2008 8) Growth in knowledge-intensive goods trade 1.3x as fast as in labour-intensive goods 9) 12% of global goods trade from China in 2012, vs. 2% in 1990 10) 90% of commercial sellers on eBay export to other countries, vs. less than 25% of traditional small businesses

  4. Deborah King

    This is so important as the Commonwealth has a major role to play in supporting development and tackling poverty and underdevelopment

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