Statement by Senator the Honourable Dennis Moses, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, on the Occasion of Commonwealth Day 2020

16 March 2020

On March 9, 2020, the Commonwealth will celebrate its 71st anniversary under the theme of “Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming”. This theme challenges the Commonwealth family of nations to build on its well-founded history and tradition of harnessing the ‘Commonwealth connection’ of peacebuilding, goodwill and collaboration to propel this body into a new era of strengthened cooperation, innovation and transformation. As we approach the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) Rwanda 2020, we are called upon to address the drastic decline of our land, seas and ambient environment, to mitigate adverse climate impacts and to manage the sustainable use of scarce resources, while pursuing socio-economic inclusion and empowerment, promoting fair and enhanced trade, promoting democratic ideals and embracing the opportunities presented by science, technology and innovation.

Over the past 71 years, the Commonwealth has evolved to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and ever-demanding world, in which human rights injustices have become more glaring, environmental stresses and threats have become more acute, security risks are becoming more intricate, and the challenges of small and vulnerable states are growing in impact, urgency and complexity. Despite prevailing challenges, the Commonwealth remains true to the values and principles espoused in its Charter and committed to improving the lives, wellbeing, developmental capacity and economic prospects of some 2.4 billion Commonwealth citizens in 54 Member States. The Commonwealth continues to highlight the precarious situation of the small and vulnerable states which comprise two-thirds of its membership, as it seeks to increase resilience and enhance capacity among fragile states.

Commonwealth Day 2020 also presents an opportune moment for Trinidad and Tobago to extend sincere congratulations and good wishes to the Republic of Maldives on its return to the Commonwealth fold.

In 2020, the Commonwealth finds itself at a unique crossroad where the potential of innovation must be unleashed to address the problems and perils of underdevelopment and a global climate emergency which is affecting every geographic region of the Commonwealth. Manifestations of the climate-related incidents include raging bushfires which have decimated the Australian landscape and intense drought which has impacted Member States in Africa and the Caribbean. Our Pacific neighbours continue to battle against the deluge of rising seas and dying reefs while another onslaught of hurricanes ripped through the Caribbean region with “Dorian” ravaging The Bahamas. Asia has not been spared and was battered by an extreme season of monsoons and cyclones last year...

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