The Commonwealth Secretariat is moving ahead with plans to set up a Centre of Excellence for Small States.
This was disclosed by outgoing Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, during talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, yesterday.
They were speaking ahead of the official opening of the 36th Regular Meeting of the Heads of Government, which opened today at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
According to him, the Centre, which will be based in Malta, will be a replica of one already operating in Geneva, and will address several issues from the perspective of small states.
The Secretary General also indicated that his office planned to work on a number of other areas which would significantly benefit Commonwealth countries.
He cited anti-corruption and profile building, assistance in disaster management, the establishment of national Human Rights institutions, the establishment of an alliance for young entrepreneurs and developing programmes geared toward boys who are underachieving, as some of the projects to be undertaken.
He added that he was keen to discuss other areas of collaboration with Barbados. Senator McClean thanked the Secretary General for the work that the Commonwealth was doing, particularly the efforts aimed at supporting small island developing states. ???You have been a champion in the issues related to small island developing states and we in Barbados appreciate it,??? she stated.
The Minister also outlined the challenges facing countries like Barbados which fell in the middle income category. She noted that countries which progressed to the middle income category were often given fewer concessions, even though they were still vulnerable in many areas.
Senator McClean suggested that states should not be classified as low or middle income, but seen simply as vulnerable states, which need assistance in various areas. The officials also discussed issues related to anti-corruption, human rights, disaster management and climate change.