Nov 29, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Is Commonwealth membership still relevant to countries today?

As world leaders descend on Kigali for the meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government, questions remain about the organization’s relevance in the 21st century.

This year’s theme is “Creating a Future Together: Connect, Innovate, Transforming .

Read:Kigali Day Schools Close for CHOGM Week

Analysts agree that the Commonwealth’s convening power – developed and developing countries bringing together people from the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia-Pacific – is its strongest link.

Critics say the Commonwealth is largely a chateau. The lack of a formal constitutional framework limits its ability to sanction members who violate its values.

The challenge for the 57-year-old Commonwealth and the Secretariat is to remain relevant.

“We live in a time of change, challenge and uncertainty. The pandemic cost Commonwealth countries more than US$1 trillion in 2020 alone,” Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland told members of the Eastern Africa Association at their annual summer reception in London on June 8.

“We have a big job to do to help countries rebuild – and rebuild better. Climate change is now on Code Red for humanity – and the window for action is closing fast.”

She added that there was a need to help Commonwealth countries “define the dangers of conflict and to deal with instability in our world, not least due to rising food and fuel prices worldwide.”

Free Association

Membership of the 54-strong organization was initially limited to former British colonies, but developed into the current “free association”. of independent states, with the inclusion of Mozambique (1995) and Rwanda (2009). Togo is expected to formally submit its bid for membership during CHOGM in Kigali.

Read:Rwanda drops everything for upcoming CHOGM

Zimbabwe will is also expected to submit its request to rejoin the bloc it left in 2003.

Analysts question what concrete and incremental development assistance the organization will provide to its 32 small members and 13 vulnerable and least-developed members.< /p>

With the Secretariat being budgeted at £50 million (US$61 million), it is difficult to make a meaningful impact.

“The future requires scale-up and not, as some would like, a declining developmental role for the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Secretariat,” Ransford Smith, former Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth (2006-2013), told The EastAfrican.

< p>Christoph he Thornley, the High Commissioner for Canada to Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda, says the Commonwealth needs to focus on key areas where it has a comparable A advantage.

“The biggest challenge of our Time is climate change. The Commonwealth has shown its willingness to address this issue.”

According to Jo Lomas, UK Commonwealth Envoy, the priority is to deliver where it can really add value.

“For example, in supporting trade within the Commonwealth… We will continue to prioritize women and girls, particularly in delivering on our commitment of 12 years of quality education by 2030,” she told The East African.