What does the Commonwealth mean to you?
Rob Luke: The Commonwealth reflects the ideal that international affairs are not just the business of governments and diplomats, but the common interest of communities and civil society. It provides the Commonwealth’s 2.3 billion people with a global identity to complement their own nationality: an identity built on shared values and history, but one that is also forward-looking and modern. More than 60 percent of the Commonwealth’s population are under the age of 30 and it is these young members of the Commonwealth who will play a vital role in shaping the response to the global issues of the future.
The British Government wants to see the Commonwealth strengthened both as a focus for democratic values and for development. This means working with our Commonwealth Partners to adapt Commonwealth institutions for the 21st Century so that, as well as effectively championing human rights standards and the rule of law, the Commonwealth is able to take on new challenges such as Sustainable Development, Climate Change and promoting intra-Commonwealth Trade.
What can Malta bring to the table as a host for CHOGM 2015?
RL: I am confident that Malta will bring a huge amount to the table as host of CHOGM this year, as it did when it hosted CHOGM in 2005. Prime Minister Muscat is playing a key leadership role in seeking to use CHOGM 2015 as an important moment to revitalise the Commonwealth and ensure it strengthens its relevance and value to the 2.3 billion inhabitants of its member states. In that goal he has the UK’s strong support.
CHOGM is an opportunity to showcase Malta to a large international audience and is one that the government has embraced. As hosts, I know Malta will work hard to build consensus and agreement on a wide range of issues that are relevant to the lives of Commonwealth citizens. I understand that Malta will pay particular attention to the unique challenges facing small island states such as climate change and sustainable development.
What are your expectations for CHOGM 2015?
RL: The choice of theme for this year’s Summit - ‘The Commonwealth - Adding Global Value’ – offers the perfect perspective for all those with an interest in the future role of the Commonwealth. CHOGM 2015 is an opportunity to consider how the Commonwealth can give a tangible boost to people’s prosperity, security and respect for their human rights. I hope that a successful outcome will, among other things, include a commitment to the Post-2015 Development agenda and help lay the groundwork for a successful negotiation on climate change at Paris in December.
The UK applauds the creation of the Women’s Forum and is pleased to see it run alongside the existing People’s, Youth, and Business Forums. I hope that those attending the Forums take the opportunity to set out their own expectations to Heads of Government and take the lead in proposing their own solutions to global challenges. I also hope that CHOGM 2015 will give the Commonwealth a renewed sense of purpose, and provide an ambitious roadmap for the future.