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12.03.2007 General News

C'Wealth Day Message From Secretary - General

By Times Reporter

The Commonwealth is a large slice of this world of ours.

We are 53 nations and 1.8 billion people.

We are African, Asian, Caribbean, European and Pacific.

Home to the richest and poorest and those of every colour and creed - an association of equals sharing the fundamental beliefs of democracy and freedom.

We celebrate diversity, respect difference and promote understanding - between faiths, ethnic groups and communities - at every level: local, regional, national and international.

We try to understand the many causes of tension and marginalization - from poverty to identity to differences in cultural practices and political beliefs.

Tensions can of course be found in the Commonwealth and there are certainly enough in the wider world for us to say that respecting diversity and the views and rights of others isn’t always easy.

But so, too, are there Commonwealth successes in the struggle against racism or intolerance - enough ways in which people have been brought together - first to know and to live with each other in harmony - to show that it can be done.

It’s the work of governments, of civil society and above all of individuals.

We set special store by education and the positive values that people learn at school and throughout their lives. So, too, we set special store in hearing the voices of young people - the guardians of the future.

In Malta in November 2005, our Heads of Government met and committed to bringing this Commonwealth experience to bear both within the Commonwealth and outside it.

They set out to look again at the causes of tension and misunderstanding in society and to bring together all our best practices from around the world that have succeeded in resolving them.

The aim is to share that information. The goal is to make the Commonwealth and the world we inhabit a better place for all.

The work is happening right now and will be complete by the time Commonwealth Heads of Government next meet in Uganda in November 2007.

We start from what we have already agreed - our shared values of human rights, liberty,