Saturday, November 24, 2007

Commonwealth a great global good, says new Secretary-General

“We are a family of equals, not just a family of nations”

image The Commonwealth’s new Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said today, 24 November 2007, that the variety of nations which the Commonwealth represents is a “unique force for good.”

The Commonwealth includes countries of every stage of development and has some of the largest states in the world and some of the smallest, Mr Sharma said. “We are a family of equals, not just a family of nations.”

Mr Sharma, 66, was speaking to journalists in Kampala, Uganda, shortly after Commonwealth leaders unanimously chose him to lead the 53-nation group. He will take office on 1 April 2008.

Mr Sharma, who is currently Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, said he had long believed that development is a multi-pronged pursuit. “Globalisation can’t just be a story of emerging economies. Partial globalisation is failed globalisation,” he said.

He added that as Secretary-General, he wished to pay “particular attention” to women and young people. Women are a litmus test for the way a society is going, he said, and the future belongs to youth: “To mainstream youth, through education, knowledge and awareness is a huge global challenge.”

Asked about the current challenges facing the Commonwealth, including issues of human rights, Mr Sharma said: “I believe very strongly that the collective problems of the world require collective solutions. We should try for convergence on all areas of global concern.”

He described the problems facing the Commonwealth’s 32 small states as “so pressing” he could not prioritise them. He said their issues would be pursued with vigour, particularly trade, an area in which the Commonwealth is already actively engaged.

“As Secretary-General, I will always be guided by the importance of outcomes,” he stressed.

Commonwealth Secretariat - Commonwealth a great global good, says new Secretary-General