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Resource Type: Publication

A Commonwealth of the People: Time for Urgent Reform

Commonwealth Heads of Government decided to create an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to advise them on reform of the association at their meeting in Port-of-Spain in 2009.

This decision by Heads of Government was taken at a time when the world was – as it now still is – in the midst of an economic crisis. The old order of economic power was changing. Climate change showed signs of endangering global economic activity and the safety and livelihood of millions of people. It posed threats to the very existence of a number of countries. Terrorism, too, threatened the security of states and presented a serious challenge to international peace.

Heads of Government decided that in such a world, it was important to build a stronger, more resilient and progressive Commonwealth and to make it more relevant to its times and to its people in the future. They made it clear that they wanted the Commonwealth to continue to be an important player in the world, drawing on its rich diversity to help build global consensus around the Commonwealth’s core values including peace, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, gender equality, economic development, and freedom of expression.

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Understanding the intersection between gender and climate change in the Caribbean: synopsis report

The Commonwealth Foundation convened a two-day dialogue with representatives from several civil society organisations across the Caribbean on Monday June 4 and Tuesday June 5 2018 at United Nations House in Barbados. The workshop was the result of a consultative process with key regional Caribbean stakeholders following COP 23 in Germany. Arising from that process it was determined that there was a need to gain a better understanding of the need in the region with respect to the intersection between gender and climate change, and to determine where the Foundation can add value.

Read the synopsis report below:

Download gender and climate meeting synopsis: first discussion (5536 downloads )

The power of storytelling: interviews with Commonwealth Writers storytellers

In April 2018, the Foundation carried out semi-structured interviews with selected programme partners attending the Commonwealth People’s Forum 2018 (CPF). CPF brings together civil society from around the world, including the Foundation’s programme partners, every two years. The interviews were designed to learn about partners’ experience working with the Foundation, its impact on their work and to explore other opportunities to improve programme outcomes.

This short report highlights the key findings from interviews with storytellers based on their personal opinions and who have been involved with the Commonwealth Writers programme over the last 7 years. In addition to finding out about the impact of the Writers programme on their work, the interviews aimed to explore the ways in which less-heard voices can influence governance and decision-making and to paint a picture of the socio-political environment in their individual countries, how this affects the craft of storytelling, and where Commonwealth Writers may be able to enhance its programme support.

The interviewees were: Demere Kitunga, a Tanzanian writer; Erato Ioannou, a Cypriot writer; Gabrielle Hossein, a Trinidadian writer; Gloria Kiconco, a Ugandan poet and writer; Kendel Hippolyte, a St. Lucian poet and playwright; Lisa Harewood, a Bajan filmmaker; and Tracy Assing, a Trinidadian writer and filmmaker.

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Commonwealth insights: inclusive governance

The Commonwealth People’s Forum (CPF) is a biennial event held prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. CPF 2018 took place on 16-18 April in London and was jointly organised by the Government of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Foundation. CPF 2018 critically explored policy based actions under the theme of ‘Inclusive Governance: The Challenge for a Contemporary Commonwealth’. It provided an innovative opportunity for civil society organisations to share knowledge and learn from each other as well as to interact with governance institutions on key policy issues. The CPF 2018 series elaborates on the issues covered in the London Declaration on Inclusive Governance for a Renewed Commonwealth.

For a more detailed analysis of some of the issues and strategies discussed at CPF 2018 and covered in this brief, readers should refer to the Commonwealth insights: inclusive governance series.

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Commonwealth insights: women negotiating peace

Institutions involved in matters of war, peace and security have traditionally excluded women. When women are not involved in negotiating and drafting peace agreements their priorities and rights are less likely to be taken into account during the ‘post-conflict’ implementation period.

The CPF 2018 session Women negotiating peace discussed the importance of taking gender into account in high-level peace negotiations. The session shared stories of women who have managed to overcome the barriers to working in male dominated environments and take the lead in negotiations. The session also sought to demonstrate the transformational value of inclusion, and to identify clear recommendations for institutions at all levels to achieve it.

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Commonwealth insights: climate justice

Institutional responses to climate change have predominantly been about adapting to its impact. However, this approach places the burden on people and places at the margins, particularly in small island states in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific regions, where climate change impacts continue to be catastrophic.

The CPF 2018 session Climate justice: an inequitable burden, sought to better understand what climate justice means for people experiencing climate change’s most adverse consequences and to explore how to transform the dominant narrative.

Climate justice goes beyond a technical account of the causes of climate change and acknowledges the legacy of displacement and expropriation that frontline countries have endured. It also examines the role that prevailing modes of production, exchange, and consumption play in exacerbating climate change.

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Photo Credit: Flickr CC Children play on a raft in Fiji

Commonwealth insights: reimagining migration

Contemporary narratives on migration compound exclusion and hinge on a fear of the migrant as the ‘other’. The Commonwealth People’s Forum 2018 session reimagining migration examined how inclusive governance can transform this narrative and improve the lived experience of migrants; it also explored ways in which Commonwealth action can accelerate this process.

To reimagine migration, one needs to understand how perpetuating cycles of exclusion have arisen and to re-humanise migrants and the process of migration. In-group biases as well as histories of colonialism, exclusion, and segregation make it difficult for people to recognise migrants as human beings with legitimate aspirations, who bear acute and often invisible burdens and make significant contributions to the societies to which they migrate.

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Photo credit: International Organisation for Migration