British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris hosted visiting Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland and representatives of Commonwealth countries based in Colombo at a roundtable meeting at his residence, today (3 August).
The meeting was attended by representatives from the High Commissions of Australia, Canada, Pakistan and South Africa, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka.
The UK hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April 2018 in London and will hold the Chair of the Commonwealth till 2020.
The theme of the Summit was ‘Towards a Common Future’, aimed at revitalising the Commonwealth for current and future generations.
Introducing the Secretary General, the British High Commissioner reminded colleagues that the UK has three central intentions for its two years as Chair in Office.
The first, to ensure fulfilment, as far as possible, of the commitments made at the very successful CHOGM, earlier this year.
The commitments made fall under four strands: fairness, sustainability, prosperity and security.
The second, to assist the strengthening and reform of the Commonwealth Secretariat as one of the three pillars of the Commonwealth, along with the member states and the accredited organisations.
And the third, to boost the voice of the Commonwealth in international fora as an advocate for the rules-based international system and a champion of the multilateral system.
Commonwealth members share the ambition to ensure that the Commonwealth as a whole has a very good story to tell at the next CHOGM, which will take place in Rwanda in 2020.
During her comments Baroness Scotland talked about the Commonwealth focus on young people, trade, climate change and other priorities. She commended Sri Lanka’s leadership of its work on mangroves.
The UK is planning to spend more than £500 million of programme funding under the fairness, sustainability, prosperity and security headings in Commonwealth countries over the next two years.
In addition, a number of Commonwealth countries have taken up the baton on priorities agreed on at the meeting in April in London. Among initiatives taken, Mozambique has hosted a malaria summit, following the commitment to halve malaria in the Commonwealth by 2023.
The UK and Kenya have co-hosted a global disability summit. Commonwealth senior trade officials have met in London to agree how to implement the CHOGM Connectivity Agenda, to boost intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.
And new Commonwealth election observation guidelines agreed at CHOGM have been put into practice in Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
This is Baroness Scotland’s first visit to Sri Lanka since her appointment as Secretary General in April 2016. (Colombo Gazette)