PRESS RELEASE

Waziri wa mambo ya nje wa Uingereza anayeshughulikia mambo ya Afrika, Henry Bellingham (kulia) akizungumza na wandishi wa habari wakati wa uzinduzi wa mpango wa kufundisha na kujifunza kingereza kwa njia ya redio. Uzinduzi huo ulifanyika kwenye hoteli ya Serena Inn Mjini Zanzibar

Senator Segal, who moderated the closed door session, commented that “the Commonwealth has achieved much in the last 50 years, but there is much more to be done for young people, women and the millions who still live in poverty.” He also said that “the recommendations being put forward by the EPG are key to keeping the Commonwealth relevant, vital and effective”.

 PRESS RELEASE

 26 May 2011

Eminent Persons Group meet in Dar to discuss the Commonwealth

                                                          

Visiting British Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham, Eminent Person and Canadian Senator Segal, Eminent Persons Samuel Kavuma fromUgandaand Emmanuel O Akwetey fromGhana, and government officials fromTanzania,Kenya,Mozambique,Rwanda,Seychelles,UgandaandZambia, were yesterday invited by the British and Canadian High Commissions inTanzaniato meet and discuss ongoing efforts to revitalise the Commonwealth. In existence since 1949, the voluntary association of the Commonwealth’s 54 member countries is now looking for ways for the organisation to strengthen its activities and achieve its great potential.

In a closed door session at the Canadian High Commissioner’s residence, the attendees were able to discuss at length the recommendations that the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) will present at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) inPerth,Australiain October.

Senator Segal, who moderated the closed door session, commented that “the Commonwealth has achieved much in the last 50 years, but there is much more to be done for young people, women and the millions who still live in poverty.” He also said that “the recommendations being put forward by the EPG are key to keeping the Commonwealth relevant, vital and effective”.

Uganda Youth Representative, Samuel Kavuma, noted that “Commonwealth engagement on youth and with youth is essential, given the youth population bulge in so many Commonwealth countries.” He said that this is also why the EPG “wants to hear from youth around the world” as part of its work to help improve the Commonwealth.

Visiting British Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham, who is on an official visit to Tanzaniasaid that: “The UK government has rapidly upgraded its relationship with the Commonwealth. We believe that this unique organisation is the world’s best soft power network and an ideal, ready-made network for the future. He also commended the work of the EPG, saying it is “playing a vital role in ensuring the Commonwealth remains relevant and realises its great potential.

The EPG was established at the initiative of CHOGM in November 2009 to explore and recommend ways, in the context of promoting the Commonwealth’s values and principles, that would sharpen the impact, strengthen the networks and raise the profile of the Commonwealth to ensure it “will remain relevant to its times and people in future”.

At their fourth meeting in London on 21 and 22 March 2011, this group of eminent persons stated: “The Commonwealth is in danger of becoming irrelevant and unconvincing as a values-based association” and “to safeguard against this danger we will recommend to leaders the adoption of proposals that will strengthen the Commonwealth, both as an association of governments and of peoples.”

While the EPG report is not yet complete, the group is inviting comments from interested parties on the report before it is finalised and submitted to Heads of Government for their collective consideration inPerth,Australia, in October 2011. In particular, it is looking at ways to increase the effectiveness of Commonwealth institutions; to champion Commonwealth values, to promote youth development and enterprise, social and political advocacy, election monitoring and support (the Commonwealth had an observer mission for the Tanzanian election in October); to advance initiatives on health, HIV/AIDS, climate change; and to ensure that Commonwealth citizens are increasingly active participants in decision-making processes that affect their own lives.

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NOTES FOR EDITORS:

  1. A public forum was also held at the British Council inDar es Salaamon Wednesday 25 May 2011 to take in the view of all interested parties, ranging from the general public, academics and parliamentarians. Representing the Eminent Persons Group at the event were the Honourable Hugh Segal, Canadian Senator, Dr Emmanuel O. Akwetey, founding Executive Director of Ghana’s Institute for Democratic Governance, and Uganda youth leader Samuel Kavuma.

 

  1. Former Secretary General to the East African Community, Juma Mwapachu was the moderator for the public session discussion, allowing for the public to ask questions about the Commonwealth and the Eminent Persons initiative. Attended by over 130 people, the event gave place to lively discussions on issues related to youth, education, governance, development and the role of the Commonwealth.
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