Whether affirming the creativity of Commonwealth writers, the dedication of Commonwealth athletes, the brilliance of Commonwealth scholars, the global agenda setting of Commonwealth Eminent Persons, or the like, Barbados prioritises its participation in the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Commonwealth has an immensely strong convening power.
It represents nearly a third of the world???s population, a quarter of the world???s states including one P5, two G7 and four OECD members, and more than half of the small states of the world including 25 SIDS.
When Nehru described India???s membership of the Commonwealth as bringing ???independence plus???, the plus factor included friendly relations made and sustained by informal but substantial cooperation.
The Commonwealth offers a framework for informal cooperation between 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 also been a trail blazer. The creation of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), established the practice of good governance at home as the quid pro quo for international cooperation from abroad.
Similarly, the Commonwealth has been the global champion for the cause of small states. The main value of the Commonwealth to small states lies in their access on equal terms to many of the more powerful actors on the world stage.
The Commonwealth should be highly commended for the Open-Ended Ministerial Working Group on Small States, the development of the Commonwealth Resilience Framework, and the establishment of the Small States Centre of Excellence in Malta. This meeting also set up the much needed Climate Finance Access Hub to assist vulnerable small island developing states, among others, in accessing finance.
As a small island developing state, Barbados is proud to be a member of the Commonwealth. We encourage the Commonwealth to continue its work on key small states issues, particularly the need to address debt, trade and climate financing, tax cooperation and international financial centres, and emerging areas related to sustainable development including ocean governance and the ???blue??? economy.
Speaking particularly as a vulnerable small state, Barbados welcomes the Commonwealth???s continued support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize and Guyana in our region, as well as that of 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, the implementation of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
The role of the Commonwealth has become more relevant as what was perceived as ???club diplomacy??? has been replaced by ???network diplomacy???. Foreign policy and diplomacy now involve a delicate balancing of interests and pressures from a diverse array of actors, domestic and international, governmental and non-governmental.
This development, coupled with an expanding agenda of international problems from climate change to terrorism, make the need for international collaboration and cooperation greater than ever before.
The family of Commonwealth organisations, including the gathering of parliamentarians, local government representatives, senior officials, academics, and civil society among others, to exchange best practices and mobilise support for common goals, remains an invaluable shared asset.
In this vein of cooperation, the recent establishment of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council to promote trade and investment in the Commonwealth should be commended. Similarly, the continuing success of the Commonwealth Games needs also to be recognised as the Games along with international cricket are the known ???face??? of the Commonwealth.
It is however important to note that in order to remain relevant, focused and effective there is a need for a greater collaboration between Commonwealth Intergovernmental and Associated Organisations.
I also want to encourage, in my role as Chair of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), cooperation with the United Nations, particularly its Specialised Agencies, as well as with relevant regional intergovernmental organisations including CARICOM given their complementary capacities. We need to promote synergies among these related organisations towards the realisation of enhanced outcomes within and across the Commonwealth.
I use this opportunity to thank the outgoing Secretary General for his dedicated service, to congratulate the Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, the Secretary General-designate, a daughter of a small island developing state.
I applaud the Government of Malta and its people for their wonderful hospitality, and commend and convey our best wishes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the attainment of her recent milestones, as we pledge our continued support to her as the Head of the Commonwealth.
It is my firm belief that at the CHOGM 2015, we as Heads realised our aspiration of ???Adding Global Value???.??I thank you.
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