Date & Time2:00pm, 14 March 2023 - 3:30pm, 14 March 2023
About the event
March 2023 marks the ten–year anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter—a document developed and agreed by Commonwealth Member States. The Charter outlines the Commonwealth’s fundamental principles, values, and commitments to democracy and the rule of law, human rights, international peace and security and sustainable development.
Ten years on, the anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter is an opportunity to pause and take stock of the remarkable progress the Commonwealth has made since it was established. But more importantly, it provides an opportunity for the people of the Commonwealth, mentioned in the opening words of the Charter – ‘We the people …’, to come together to exchange ideas, draw on collective insights, and talk frankly and openly about the challenges that lie ahead. It is also an opportunity to recommit to the political values and aspirations of the Charter that can—and must—guide us into the future.
Why should I join this event?
This Critical Conversation seeks to celebrate the role and significance of the Commonwealth Charter as a set of commitments and political values that bind Member States and the People of the Commonwealth. The event will bring together young changemakers, leading civic activists and trailblazers from across the Commonwealth—who have demonstrated their capability to lead positive change—to discuss their vision for the future of the Commonwealth.
The conversation will build on comments made on the Charter by civil society who attended the 2022 Commonwealth People’s Forum as well as on remarks from Commonwealth leaders (both young and old) in past Critical Conversations. Through this conversation we aim to look ahead to the next ten years and answer the following questions:
- What does the Charter say about the Commonwealth? What role could or should the Charter play in how the Commonwealth sees and projects itself?
- To what extent is the Charter reflective of Commonwealth citizens’ aspirations, particularly those of young people, for a better world?
- How do we move the Charter from being a set of aspirations to becoming a practical instrument of challenge and change? Can we come up with examples where using the Charter has made—or might have made—a difference?
- What role should young people across the Commonwealth play in demanding that governments uphold and protect Charter values?
- How can Charter values be better reflected in the Commonwealth’s own institutions and processes?
- Where do we want the Commonwealth to be in ten years’ time and how might the Charter help us get there?
- How do we promote greater awareness of the Commonwealth Charter amongst the people of the Commonwealth?
Makeda Mahadeo is a Rwandan-Jamaican content creator, media personality and DJ based in Kigali. She has produced and presented several popular radio and television shows in Kigali and is widely recognised as Rwanda’s first female DJ.
Most recently, Makeda featured as a judge on East Africa’s Got Talent, spent almost two years anchoring and producing content for CNBC Africa and throughout her career has hosted dozens of high profile events.
For over a decade she has been sharing her journey of discovery in Rwanda through her platform, ‘Contact Makeda’ and remains focused on continuing to contribute to a more positive and diverse narrative of East Africa through content creation.
Deanna Lyncook is a PhD student in History at Queen Mary University of London. Her research takes a transnational approach to the experiences of West Indian children in the British education system in Britain and its Caribbean colonies, in the second half of the 20th Century. She is the host of the weekly podcast The History Hotline where she discusses events and individuals that have shaped Black history in Britain. She is also a member of the Young Historians Project, that works on projects that document neglected aspects of Black British History.
Dr Maisha Reza has been the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Students’ Association since 2018. She is an ASEAN Youth Fellow, Global Shaper in the Global Shapers Community (Singapore Hub), and Youth Representative on the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report Advisory Board.
Dr Maisha is a Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences and the Race Equality Resource Officer at University of Exeter, she is an Associate Fellow of The Royal Commonwealth Society and a member of the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network.
Harry has been an advocate for young people in Global advocacy from the age of 15. He has represented UNICEF, British Youth Council and Restless development in High-level conferences advocating for the rights of young people. He has been awarded the Queens Young leader award for his services to bettering the lives of young people through Youth for Change Global, which he co-founded and has won numerous awards.
He has given numerous speeches in Parliament and Party conferences and has held a board position with UNICEF for 5 years, and is an official He for She ambassador for UN Women.
Christine Samwaroo is the Founder and Managing Director of The Breadfruit Collective, a Gender and Environmental Justice NGO in Guyana. She has co-authored a children’s book on climate change and health and is one of the Coordinators of the Guyana Gender Hub. Christine was selected as Co-Chair for the Gender Working Group as part of CANARI’s Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance. Most recently, she conducted online and in-person consultations for the UN Youth Declaration for Transformative Education.
Riddhi Dastidar is a Delhi-based writer of Bengali origin. They write and report on themes of gender, disability, rights, climate and culture. They hold an MA in Gender Studies from Ambedkar University Delhi. Riddhi won a 2022 UNFPA Laadli Award and a 2021 SCARF Award for their reportage on persons with psychosocial disabilities and the government’s public health response during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their poetry won the 2020 TFA Award and their fiction was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and Wasafiri New Writing Prize in 2021. They were a 2022 South Asia Speaks fellow working on their debut novel under the mentorship of Deepa Anappara. Their fiction has been anthologised in ‘A Case of Indian Marvels’, Aleph’s anthology of India’s finest new writers. Their work has appeared in Foreign Policy Magazine, The Baffler, Autostraddle, Scroll, IndiaSpend, Khabar Lahariya, Vogue, adda magazine, Rattle, Bright Wall/Dark Room and elsewhere.
Allan is serving his second term as an elected Councillor of the Belize City Council. At only 28 years old, he is one of the youngest elected officials in the Country and is currently presiding as Deputy Mayor; holding one of the largest portfolios of Infrastructure, Urban Development & Labor Relations. Deputy Pollard also serves as a member of the board of directors for Belize Water Services Ltd. and the National Sports Council. He is an alumnus of St. John’s College and is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from John Carroll University.
Allan is driven and passionate about transforming his municipality into a smart & resilient city through infrastructure development and sustainable urbanization. His focus remains on youth participation in governance and youth development through various community-based initiatives.
Larissa Crawford is a published Indigenous, anti-racism, and climate justice researcher and policy advisor with over 14 years of experience. She is the Founder of Future Ancestors Services, an Indigenous and Black-owned, youth-led professional services social enterprise that advances climate justice and systemic barrier removal with lenses of anti-racism and ancestral accountability.
Larissa graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Development and Communication Studies. After starting a library in Accra, studying international law and volunteering in Istanbul, and representing her university at several global UN events, Larissa led several anti-racism and Indigenous research initiatives at York university, and shortly after brought this experience to Ontario’s Ministry of Energy and Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate as a policy advisor; the 2018 G7 as an expert advisor and youth delegate; and many of her related volunteer roles.
Through programs such as the CohortX Climate Justice, the Action Canada, and the Youth Climate Lab FutureXChange fellowships, the Raven Trust Capital Fireweed Fellowship, and the Students on Ice Arctic Policy Cohort, Larissa continues her learning of Northern Indigenous climate knowledge, climate policy, anti-racism opportunities in environmentalism.
In 2022 Larissa was honoured with the York University One to Watch Alumni Award, in Complex Canada’s 20 Creators Who Will Shape the Next 20 Years of The Culture, and in 2020-21 in Women of Influence’s Top 25 list; in Refinery Canada’s 29 Powerhouses; as York University’s Top 30 Under 30 Alumni; in HuffPost’s 26 Indigenous Influencers to Follow; and with the Pollution Probe Equity in Sustainability Award.
We support people's participation in democracy and development by providing grants, platforms, and expertise.