This is a tale of two dictators. Both have a background in espionage, trained in the dark arts of intelligence and security. Both became president in 2000 and proved themselves masters at controlling their countries by crushing dissent, stifling democracy and stealing elections. Both imprison or kill political foes, even those who fled into other nations for sanctuary. Both silence journalists and use state-controlled media to pump out a twisted narrative to further their own rule. Both treat state assets as their own. And both invade neighbouring nations and meddle abroad with disastrous consequences for millions of innocent people.
One of them is Vladimir Putin, now firmly established as Public Enemy No 1 for the free world after his latest assault on Ukraine. The full-scale invasion and atrocities unleashed by this self-serving despot have finally shocked the complacent West into action as it witnesses his attack on a sovereign nation. His misjudgement has turned Russia into a pariah state as the West tries to throttle his economy and sends his billionaire pals scurrying into safety with their stolen assets. As the Kremlin bombs cities such as Kyiv and Kharkiv, Mariupol and Mykolaiv, one in four of the country’s citizens were displaced from their homes in just three weeks.
Liz Truss is being urged by MPs to block the appointment of Johnston Busingye
They are calling for sanctions to stop him being Rwanda’s high commissioner
Mr Busingye was demoted in September by Rwandan President Paul Kagame
He said government chartered a flight that led to Paul Rusesabagina’s seizure
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is being urged to block the appointment of Rwanda’s top diplomat in London over his central role in the kidnap and detention of the country’s most famous human rights activist.
Senior MPs from both main parties are calling on Ms Truss to impose urgent sanctions on Johnston Busingye, Rwanda’s former justice secretary, to prevent his instalment as the central African regime’s next high commissioner.
Mr Busingye was demoted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame after admitting that their government chartered a flight that led to the seizure of Paul Rusesabagina, the real-life hero of the film Hotel Rwanda who saved more than 1,200 lives in the 1994 genocide.
Mr Rusesabagina – a critic of the dictatorship – was duped into flying to Rwanda after boarding a private jet in Dubai he thought was flying to a neighbouring country. The 67-year-old was jailed for ‘terrorism’ in September.
Senior MPs are calling on Liz Truss to impose sanctions on Johnston Busingye (pictured), Rwanda’s ex-justice secretary, to stop his instalment as the country’s next high commissioner
Last week, Mr Busingye was named in Parliament by former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith alongside Chinese Communist bosses involved in crimes against humanity, Iranian torturers and Sudanese militia leaders in a debate on sanctions.
Mr Duncan Smith queried why Mr Kagame was proposing to send ‘that abusive individual’ to represent his nation. ‘Do they think the UK is a soft touch?’ he asked.
‘This man should be sanctioned, not sent as their bloody ambassador,’ he told The Mail on Sunday.
‘It is a disgrace that the Government has not yet made it clear we will reject his credentials. We must make a very strong statement.’
Labour’s Chris Bryant said it was ‘inconceivable’ that Ministers might accept the appointment. ‘Instead of sending a coach to take him to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen, they should bar him from entering the country.’
The MPs are co-chairmen of the All-Party Group on Magnitsky Sanctions, which aims to target those responsible for corruption or human rights violations.
Bill Browder, the financier who pushed for such laws around the world after his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was murdered in Russia, said Rusesabagina was a hero, adding: ‘His only real crime was to be critical of Kagame.’
Mr Rusesabagina was manager of Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali when he saved the lives of 1,268 people who sought sanctuary there amid the horrors of the genocide.
Fearing for his safety, he later fled to the US where he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
A fierce critic of Mr Kagame, he co-founded the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change, a coalition of opposition groups.
The Rwandan regime, which has a history of smearing its enemies, accused him of being ‘the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits’.
He denied all charges.
Human rights groups condemned his unlawful seizure and criticised the trial as a charade. Rusesabagina was sentenced in September to 25 years in prison.
Mr Busingye’s admission of his government’s role came after a video was inadvertently sent to al-Jazeera. It showed him being coached for an interview with the broadcaster by Chelgate, a London specialist in ‘reputation management’.
In the footage, he admitted prison authorities intercepted confidential correspondence between Mr Rusesabagina and his lawyers, which he denied in the interview.
In a second interview, he confirmed the regime paid for the plane that took Mr Rusesabagina to Kigali and for the individual who tricked him on to the plane.
‘This man oversaw the kidnapping and torture of my father,’ said his daughter Carine Kanimba.
‘He should be disqualified from a role that requires the holder to be a person of integrity.’
The Foreign Office, which can veto ambassadors and high commissioners, declined to comment, and the Rwandan government did not respond to a request for comment last night.
Rwanda would have held the responsibility for defending what the Commonwealth stands for – despite violating those same values for decades. When Rwanda was admitted as a member in 2009, I had hoped our government would apply Commonwealth values in its governance. But this did not happen.
In January 2010, I made the decision to leave my family and career in the Netherlands and return to my beloved Rwanda. I intended to register my party, the United Democratic Forces of Rwanda (UDF-Inkingi), and to contest the 2010 presidential elections.
But the Rwandan government does not tolerate dissenting voices. I was arrested and dragged into politically motivated judicial proceedings. After I was sentenced to eight years in jail by the high court, I appealed to the supreme court and the sentence was increased to 15 years. The African Court on Human and People’s Rights cleared me and held that Rwanda had violated my rights to freedom of expression as well as to adequate defence. After eight years’ imprisonment, I was released under presidential grace in 2018.
I spent five years in solitary detention, during which time I wrote a book,Between 4 walls of the 1930 prison: memoirs of a Rwandan prisoner of conscience. In it, I recount the three years between announcing my presidential candidacy to my incarceration in the infamous “1930” maximum security prison. I dedicated my book primarily to all who are engaged in the struggle for democracy in Rwanda, with a special thought for the vice-president of the Democratic Green Party, André Kagwa Rwisereka, who was murdered in 2010 and the former head of intelligence, Patrick Karegeya, who was murdered in 2013.
The more injustice that I and my fellow citizens have endured – including the killing of my close political aides – the more motivated I am to fight for democracy in Rwanda. On my release, I launched the political party Dalfa Umurinzi with a mission to strive for the rule of law and for sustainable development benefiting every Rwandan. Although the constitution provides me with the right to organise a general assembly, I’m not permitted to register my political party or be approved to operate.
The more injustice I and my fellow citizens have endured, the more motivated I am to fight for democracy in Rwanda
In 2019, I received an international award from the Association for Human Rights of Spain (APDHE). I couldn’t travel to Spain to collect the prize because I had no right to leave Rwanda without permission from the justice minister. Two requests to do so have received no response from the authorities. I have not seen my family in the Netherlands for more than 10 years.
There is a pattern of limiting political participation to those affiliated to the ruling party and excluding serious contenders in Rwanda’s presidential elections. This is done by fabricating charges and abusing the judicial system. These acts represent a violation of Commonwealth core principles.Advertisement
They also challenge the claim often advanced by the ruling circle in Rwanda that the established political system is based on power-sharing consensus democracy with the intent of overcoming ethnic divisions and accelerating development.
Rwanda’s oft-repeated development success story is flawed. In 2006, 72% of Rwanda’s debt was written off under the IMF and World Bank’s heavily indebted poor countries initiative, while Rwanda received more overseas development assistance than countries with similar incomes – a total of $17bn (£11bn) from 2000 to 2019.
Despite this, Rwanda remains one of the world’s poorest countries, ranked 160th out of 189 countries in the UN Human Development Index of 2019. The government’s 2000 development agenda, which aimed to transform Rwanda into a middle-income economy by 2020, has not succeeded and delivery has been postponed to 2035.
Although economic growth has been high in Rwanda, it is characterised by low per capita income, low private investment, low exports and high reliance on aid. Since 2012, Rwanda’s borrowing has intensified, increasing indebtedness to 66% of GDP in 2020.
The main economic challenges include an undeveloped private sector, increasing unproductive indebtedness, high youth unemployment and a consistently high poverty rate, as well as a population happiness deficit.
Rwanda’s alleged role in regional political tensions has also prevented economic development. Reconciliation policies, implemented after the civil war and the 1994 genocide, are not inclusive. They weaken the social capital that is needed for our population to trust each other and work together efficiently. The repression of dissenting voices has encouraged Rwanda’s citizens to abstain from participating in social, economic and political decisions.Advertisement
Prior to Covid-19, Rwanda had a cash gap of 15.7% of GDP a year to meet its sustainable development goals by 2030. This has increased to 21.3% of GDP per year. Given that its government was provided with significant financial assistance to support its development plan to transform Rwanda into a middle-income state over the past two decades, and has not succeeded, I would argue that any further financing must be accompanied by radical governance reforms. Current governance in Rwanda – that limits political space, lacks separation of power, impedes freedom of expression and represses critics of the government – cannot lead to sustainable development.
I believe I made the right decision to return to Rwanda. My story, and those of others who have been harassed, jailed, forced into exile or worse for challenging the government, are tangible evidence of a lack of respect for human rights and of good governance, and are violations of the Commonwealth’s fundamental values. Governance reforms should be a prerequisite before Rwanda hosts the next Commonwealth heads of government meeting and takes over the chair.
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is president of the Dalfa Umurinzi political party, Rwanda.
The UK delivered a statement on Rwanda at the 37th Session of Universal Periodic Review (UPR), sharing recommendations to improve their human rights record.
Published 25 January 2021
The United Kingdom welcomes Rwanda’s strong record on economic and social rights, and promotion of gender equality. We remain concerned, however, by continued restrictions to civil and political rights and media freedom. As a member of the Commonwealth, and future Chair-in-Office, we urge Rwanda to model Commonwealth values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.
We recommend that Rwanda:
Conduct transparent, credible and independent investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture, and bring perpetrators to justice.
Protect and enable journalists to work freely, without fear of retribution, and ensure that state authorities comply with the Access to Information law.
Screen, identify and provide support to trafficking victims, including those held in Government transit centres.
Kagame Should Not Host Queen Elizabeth II And Commonwealth Leaders In 2020
Open Letter to The Right Honourable Theresa May, British Prime Minister
Dear Right Honourable Theresa May, as you are of course well aware, the 2020 Commonwealth Heads of States and Government Meeting (CHOGM) will be held in Rwanda. This means Rwanda’s President, General Paul Kagame will hold the position of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office from 2020 to 2022 as leader of CHOGM host country. With all due respect, Kagame hosting CHOGM and subsequently holding the position of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office for two years is most appalling.
Madam Prime Minister, how you and fellow Commonwealth leaders determined that General Kagame would be a suitable host for CHOGM remains a mystery. You were fully aware that Mr. Kagame practices politics that does not remotely resemble the Commonwealth’s democratic principles and norms. You knew, for example, that in 2017 Kagame “won” a presidential majority of over 99%, after “winning” a referendum to end term limits that could see him remain president until 2034 when he will be 77 years old. This puts General Kagame in the league of the North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
Be that as it may, what is currently taking place inside Rwanda and in its neighborhood leaves no doubt about what Mr. Kagame stands for. In the past four days, General Kagame literally shut down Rwanda’s common border with Uganda. The two countries are members of the East African Community (EAC) and the Commonwealth. Nobody knows for sure why the Rwandan ruler has taken this extraordinary measure and its impact, but one thing is for sure. This outrageous action will adversely affect Rwandans, not least because more than half of the country’s annual international trade of about US$3.3 billion transits through Uganda onto the seaport of Mombasa, Kenya for overseas markets. For a poor country with a per capita income of US$748, shutting the gateway to international trade is a case of shooting oneself in the foot. This is a country heavily dependent on foreign aid of which UK’s contribution was £55.8 million for 2018/2019.
Madam Prime Minister, Kagame is also involved in conflicts with Burundi and South Africa. In the South African case, the national prosecutor has stated in court that the four Rwandan nationals who murdered the former Rwandan intelligence chief, Patrick Karegeya, in Johannesburg in 2013 are closely associated with the Kagame government. Because of the Karegeya case and past illegal activities by Rwandan officials in South Africa, relations between the two countries, remain poor. For example, South Africa no longer provides consular services in Rwanda, despite the fact that hundreds of Rwandans do business, study, and seek medical attention in that country. To travel to South Africa, Rwandans must apply for visas in other countries, especially in neighboring Uganda, whose country Mr. Kagame has now locked up.
Meanwhile, inside Rwanda itself, fear, tension, and uncertainties which the people of Rwanda experience every day have intensified in the past two days. Reports indicate that Mr. Kagame has placed three top military generals under house arrest including General Joseph Nzabamwita who is the chief of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).
Right Honourable Prime Minister May, I put it to you that Mr. Kagame should not host Queen Elizabeth II and the Commonwealth Leaders in 2020. None of the unfolding conflicts involving him and his counterparts in neighboring states can be fixed in the near term. This being the case, the Commonwealth should instead urgently mediate between Rwanda and Uganda to avert the worst case scenario of a war breaking out between two members of the Commonwealth.
The chorus has just begun. Surely, it will be relentlessly repeated for at least two next years until the CHOGM takes place in Rwanda, in 2020. Every observer would realise that a decision to keep the CHOGM in Rwanda constitutes an indication of the unequivocal support the United Kingdom is rendering to the dictator of Rwanda. It takes us to reflect on values and principles of the organization, and how it can influence good governance and democracy in country members.
How I know the CHOGM…
In 2007, I was in Uganda where I sought exile (2006-2008). It was a year of a lot of noise about a near thing, “Chogam”. [Tshogam], that is how it sounds in vernacular Ugandan accent. At least that is what I caught. A simple explanation to and by the ordinary citizen, was that “Chogam” was the arrival of Queen of England. Uganda was colonized by England. Ugandans respect the Queen, and so, President Museveni took credit to have succeeded to convince Her Majesty to accept that invitation. Everything turned around “Chogam”: From Entebbe airport to Kampala, the capital, the road surroundings had to be clean. I was living in Kitubulu, near Katabi military barracks, a few kilometres from the today Entebbe State House, formerly, Idi Amin’s palace. Every night, Police kept unusual patrols and arrested many youngsters suspected to smoke ‘enjaga’, marijuana in local language. TV and radio stations talked about “chogam”, local farmers said about it, every ordinary resident was getting ready. Even Semanda, a local mental ill man knew that Queen of England was coming. Some confused “chogam” and Queen!
In Kampala things took another level: traffic directions were changed, “esawa ya Queen”, the Queen’s Clock located at the city’s entrance from Entebbe side was repaired and repainted. The Road Police was given a new uniform. They had to put on white colour in order to hail the Queen. Imagine white uniform in Kampala’s dust!!!
Later on, we learnt that a special order of high calibre cars was ordered, just for the “chogam”. Among these, was a bullet proof brand new Range Rover to carry Her Majesty the Queen. All these expensive cars were sold later after the three-day event.
…And the Commonwealth.
On my arrival in Guyana, I got an opportunity to learn more about the Commonwealth. As a senior leader in the University of Guyana Students’ Society (UGSS), I got closer to the Commonwealth office’s directorate especially during the preparation and host of the Caribbean Commonwealth Students meeting held in 2011. In 2012 I studied a short study programme run by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) after which I got a diploma in Commonwealth Values and Youth Development. Afterwards I either participated into activities of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, or I followed closely.
About the CHOGM
The CHOGM is the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting, one of organs of the Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth of Nations is an organization in which the United Kingdom meets and exchanges with the England’s former colonies. In fact, apart from Rwanda that joined in 2009 the rest of country members were colonized by England.
Values and Principles
Looking at it from another perspective, the Commonwealth could be seen as a strategy of the UK to keep a colonizer’s hand on the so called independent countries. It is very tough to explain the togetherness of the non-longer colonized countries and their former master, keeping in minds the scars of that sad past. To me, the Commonwealth reason d’être should be of repairing the damages of colonization.
However, its values and principles are very attractive. They include democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, separation of powers, good governance, inter alia.
In the wake of 2009 CHOGM, Tom Porteous takes us into what was going on inside the organisation. In the article still relevant today and rightly titled “The Commonwealth is a jamboree of repression”, Porteous reminds us how in the past the Commonwealth played a major role in keeping checks and balances in the governance of country members. For instance, Porteous recalls that South Africa was excluded due to the apartheid rule; in 1995 Nigeria was suspended following the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa; Pakistan was suspended after after General Musharraf’s coup d’etat in 1999; in 2002 Zimbabwe was suspended and withdrew from the organisation the following year; in 2007 Pakistan was once again suspended a decision taken during CHOGM held in Kampala. Fiji was suspended from attending the 2009 meeting in Trinidad.
Today, all the human right abusers are welcome to attend even to host and chair the meetings of the organization. Dictators forge arguments that will justify their abuses while their counterparts look aside. Pakistan and Bangladesh claimed to be threatened by terrorism to justify abuses and torture. Rwanda uses either genocide or threat to national security to intimidate or even extrajudicially execute political opponents.
Can the Commonwealth play the Police’s role? A testimony
In 2014, my political organization Ishema Party based in France decided to participate into the 2017 presidential elections in Rwanda. We chose Rev Father Thomas NAHIMANA as our flagbearer for that historical civic duty and right. We knew that Paul Kagame, as reckless as he is, would do whatever it took to discourage our nonviolence movement. We met different diplomats for two main reasons: First, we wanted to send our message to Paul Kagame that Rwanda could be built even with opposition. We had no weapons and were open to dialogue and peace talks. Second, we wanted to see at which extent the organizations such as the Commonwealth to which Rwanda freely adhered would play the police’s role.
Our message reached. Kagame responded that we were bluffing, that we only wanted to make our political portrait in the media. At some point of the process the same diplomats asked us to provide the proof that we had applied for visa to go to Kigali! On November 23rd , 2016 our team led by Fr Thomas NAHIMANA was denied to board a plane from Nairobi to Kigali. In a letter I addressed to the diplomatic corps in Rwanda and copied to the Commonwealth secretariat and to Louise MUSHIKIWABO the following morning, I asked their intervention to make Kagame understand that they should let us enter without hindrance. Neither the Commonwealth nor any diplomat was able to do it! Talking to the media, Kagame seemed to give a green light. We took the next flight on January 22nd 2017 and this time our team was blocked at Brussels international Airport on orders emanating from the Rwanda Immigration Directorate. All these took place after Kagame forced the parliament to amend the Constitution so that he can remain in power. All the time Kagame got away free. And the Queen knows this.
Designating Rwanda as the next CHOGM host should serve as a call to act. In fact, despite numerous reports including the organization’s own reports on human rights abuses by Kagame’s regime, Kigali was given an opportunity. It is high time for the next host country to abide with the minimal core values and principles of the Commonwealth without which a country cannot pretend to a membership. It would be shameless to Her Majesty the Queen to talk about democracy in Kigali while a woman like her, INGABIRE Victoire, is languishing in prison for having expressed herself. It will be of no use talking about good governance while Thomas NAHIMANA and other political opponents who demonstrated their will to contribute to the country’s political development are banned from their motherland.
Let the following take place before the 2020 CHOGM:
Release of all political prisoners: Mrs Victoire INGABIRE, Déogratias MUSHAYIDI, Mihigo KIZITO, Ms Diane RWIGARA, Mrs Adeline RWIGARA, Théonetse NIYITEGEKA.
An inclusive national dialogue between the Government of Rwanda, the opposition and all key social players of the nation.
The CHOGM might take place without considering the above-mentioned actions. But once again, the Commonwealth will have failed us.
1. Nyuma y’ingendo z’ingirakamaro zakorewe mu bihugu bya Australia, Leta zunze ubumwe z’Amerika na Canada ndetse no mu muryango w’ubumwe bw’ibihugu by’Uburayi, Nyakubahwa Padiri Thomas Nahimana, umukandida wa Opozisiyo mu matora ya Perezida wa Repubulika azaba mu 2017, hamwe n’intumwa ayobowe bakiriwe n’Ubunyamabanga bw’Umuryango wa Commonwealth, kuri uyu wa mbere taliki ya 4 Nyakanga 2016.
2. Muri uru ruzinduko bakoreye i Londres mu Bwongereza, guhera taliki ya 3 kugeza ku ya 5 Nyakanga 2016, Nyakubahwa Padiri Thomas Nahimana yari aherekejwe na Délégation y’abarwanashyaka batandatu bahagarariye Ishyaka ISHEMA na Coalition ya Nouvelle Génération.
3.Impamvu nyamukuru yagenzaga aba Bataripfana ni ugusobanurira byimbitse ubuyobozi bwa Commonwealth ibibazo bikomeye bihangayikishije abaturage muri iki gihe cyana cyane urubyiruko bikanabuza Demokarasi gutera imbere mu Rwanda, bikaba bishingiye ahanini ku miyoborere mibi y’Abategetsi b’igihugu bakomoka mu Ishyaka rukumbi rya FPR n’abambari baryo batagihisha ko bashaka kwihambira ku butegetsi ubuziraherezo hagamijwe gukomeza kwikubira ibyiza byose by’igihugu.
4.Indi ngingo ibiganiro byibanzeho ni iyerekeye amatora y’ Umukuru w’igihugu n’ay’ Intumwazarubanda ateganyijwe mu mwaka w’2017 n’uw’2018, Ishyaka ISHEMA ry’u Rwanda rikaba ryarafashe umwanzuro udakuka wo kuzayagiramo uruhare. Hasobanuwe inzitizi zose Ishyaka rya FPR Inkotanyi rigenda rishyiraho hagamijwe cyane cyane kubangamira no kwigizayo abakandida nyakuri ba Opozisiyo.
5.Bashyikirije ubuyobozi bwa Commonwealth ingingo z’ingenzi zubakiyeho Umushinga wa politiki witwa » Together to modernize Rwanda » (Kunga Abanyarwanda kugira ngo bafatanye kwiyubakira u Rwanda-moderne »; Rassembler pour moderniser le Rwanda ) umukandida Padiri Thomas Nahimana ateganya gushyikiriza Abanyarwanda mu minsi ya vuba aha.
6.Reka twibutse ko U Rwanda rwinjiye mu muryango wa Commonwealth mu mwaka w’2009, Leta ya Paul Kagame ikaba yari yijeje uwo muryango ko izakora ibishoboka byose, igashingira imiyoborere y’igihugu ku mahame n’indangagaciro z’uwo muryango arizo Demokarasi (Democracy) imiyoborere myiza ( Good governance), igihugu kigendera ku mategeko abereye abenegihugu ( Rule of law), kubaha uburenganzira bw’ikiremwamuntu (Human rights), n’iterambere rirambye kandi risaranganyijwe ( Social and economic development).
7.Nyakubahwa Padiri Thomas Nahimana na Delegation bajyanye mu butumwa barashimira babikuye ku mutima Abayobozi bakuru ba Commonwealth ku kuba babakiriye neza, bakabatega amatwi, bakaganira mu mutuzo no mu bwubahane.
Harakabaho ISHEMA ry’u Rwanda na Nouvelle Génération,
One simple lesson from history is that when people come together to talk, to exchange ideas and to develop common goals, wonderful things can happen. So many of the world’s greatest technological and industrial achievements have begun as partnerships between families, countries, and even continents. But, as we are often reminded, the opposite can also be true. When common goals fall apart, so does the exchange of ideas. And if people no longer trust or understand each other, the talking will soon stop too.
In the Commonwealth we are a group of 53 nations of dramatically different sizes and climates. But over the years, drawing on our shared history, we have seen and acted upon the huge advantages of mutual cooperation and understanding, for the benefit of our countries and the people who live in them.
Not only are there tremendous rewards for this cooperation, but through dialogue we protect ourselves against the dangers that can so easily arise from a failure to talk or to see the other person’s point of view.
Indeed, it seems to me that now, in the second decade of the twenty first century, what we share through being members of the Commonwealth is more important and worthy of protection than perhaps at any other time in the Commonwealth’s existence. We are guardians of a precious flame, and it is our duty not only to keep it burning brightly but to keep it replenished for the decades ahead.
With this in mind, I think it apt that on this day we celebrate ‘A Young Commonwealth’ and all that it has to offer. As a concept that is unique in human history, the Commonwealth can only flourish if its ideas and ideals continue to be young and fresh and relevant to all generations.
The youthfulness and vitality that motivate our collective endeavours were seen in abundance last year in Glasgow. They will be seen again in a few months’ time when Young Leaders from islands and continents gather to make new friendships and to work on exciting initiatives that can help to build a safer world for future generations. And last November in India, talented young scientists from universities and research institutes conferred with eminent professors and pioneers of discovery at the Commonwealth Science Conference where together they shared thoughts on insights and inventions that promise a more sustainable future.
These are stirring examples of what is meant by ‘A Young Commonwealth’. It is a globally diverse and inclusive community that opens up new possibilities for development through trust and encouragement. Commonwealth Day provides each of us, as members of this worldwide family, with a chance to recommit ourselves to upholding the values of the Commonwealth Charter.
It has the power to enrich us all, but, just as importantly in an uncertain world, it gives us a good reason to keep talking.