High Commissioner for Barbados Guy Hewitt says the Commonwealth has been the global champion for the cause of small states
Whether affirming the dedication of Commonwealth athletes at the 2018 Games preceding the Commonwealth Summit, the brilliance of Commonwealth scholars, the creativity of Commonwealth writers, influencing the global agenda such as through the Commonwealth Declaration on Climate Change which impacted significantly on the outcome of COP21, or similar, Barbados is a proud member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
When the first Prime Minister of IndiaJawaharlal Nehru described India’s membership of the Commonwealth as bringing “independence plus,” the ‘plus’ factor included friendly relations made and sustained by both formal and informal networks along with substantial cooperation.
The Commonwealth has an immensely strong convening power. It represents nearly one third of the world’s population, a quarter of the world’s states including two G7 and four OECD members. Furthermore, it includes more than half of the world’s small states including many small island developing states (SIDS).
The Commonwealth offers a framework for networking among its members, facilitates the mutual exercise of soft power, and is a unique vehicle through which the international system can take stock of itself.
The Commonwealth has been the global champion for the cause of small states. The main value of the Commonwealth to small states lies in its access on equal terms to many of the more powerful actors on the world stage. As a small island developing state, Barbados lays great store in its participation in the Commonwealth.
We encourage the Commonwealth to continue its work on key small states issues, notably climate change and building resilience particularly noting the increased frequency and ferocity of storm systems in the Caribbean and Pacific; economic growth through intra-Commonwealth trade, debt management, and tax cooperation; and emerging areas related to sustainable development including ocean governance and the ‘blue’ economy. Speaking particularly as a small state, Barbados welcomes the Commonwealth’s continued support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belizeand Guyanain our region, as well as Cyprus.
We appreciate that, notwithstanding its unique role in supporting small states, there is the need to ensure that the Commonwealth also retains its relevance to its larger members. In that regard, the focus of the CHOGM on matters of migration, radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism is welcomed. Similarly, we affirm the focus on key matters on the global agenda affecting all Commonwealth countries, regardless of size, including Climate Change, and the implementation of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
I use this opportunity to congratulate the UK government and its people for their wonderful hospitality, to thank the Commonwealth Secretary General for her service, and last, but by no means least, to convey best wishes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and to pledge our continued support to her as the Head of the Commonwealth.
Allow me to end with the postscript of the Commonwealth Charter,
“We aspire to a Commonwealth that is a strong and respected voice in the world, speaking out on major issues; that strengthens and enlarges its networks; that has a global relevance and profile; and that is devoted to improving the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth.”
May this guide us as we meet under the theme ‘Towards a Common Future.’
WITH PRAYERS AND BEST WISHES FOR A SUCCESSFUL SUMMIT.