Commonwealth leaders in virtual COVID-19 conference

Commonwealth leaders and representatives held a virtual meeting this week to discuss and share solutions and ways of working that can help to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus [COVID-19] global pandemic.

The meeting was held after the Commonwealth Secretariat received support for such a meeting from a majority of Commonwealth member states with the virtual conference exploring and exchanging solutions on issues as diverse as technological tools to assist fight COVID-19 as well as the role of good governance in enforcing that battle.

The Commonwealth Secretariat advised in a press release that the conference agreed to accelerate cooperation on trade and finance, in a bid to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 as well as consider tackling the acute and long-term impact of climate change.

The virtual conference also observed that when the Commonwealth family acts together “our joint action changes the lives our people forever” and also noted that “multilateral approaches are required to address all of these challenges and especially to support more vulnerable members such as the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.”

According to a Commonwealth spokesperson: “It was a collegiate and constructive meeting and members from across the commonwealth thanked the Secretary-General and Commonwealth Secretariat for organising it and creating the platform for member states to discuss the unprecedented global health pandemic and critical impacts.”

The spokesperson also highlighted that the meeting was attended by the governments of 45 member states who represent over 80 per cent of the organisation’s membership.

“Many contributions reflected the relentless focus of the Commonwealth and the Secretariat on our collective fight against Covid-19.”

Meanwhile the Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland, has also had her contract extended after the United Kingdom as the “Chair in Office” wrote to the Secretary General to advise that there had been consensus to extend the Baroness’ contract until the leaders meet at the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting [CHOGM].

The CHOGM was initially scheduled to be held in Rwanda in June year but has now been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19. 

Attempts by Caribbean nations with the Commonwealth group to push for the renewal of the Baroness’ four-year contract were knocked back, after some CHOGM leaders wrote individually to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stating their opposition to her reappointment and that the next Secretary General is appointed during CHOGM next year.

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