Commonwealth Day 2014edit
Commonwealth Day is the annual celebration of the 53 Commonwealth Nations held on the second Monday in March every year. The day is marked to celebrate the union and diversity of the modern Commonwealth, to foster greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s achievements and role, and to help promote understanding on global issues that affect its citizens. Today the Commonwealth Day Observance, a multi-faith service held at Westminster Abbey, will be attended by the Head of the Commonwealth, HM Queen Elizabeth II, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, TRH The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex alongside senior politicians, High Commissioners, Commonwealth dignitaries and over 1,000 young people.
The 2014 Commonwealth Day theme is ‘Team Commonwealth’, representing and highlighting the importance of teamwork and collaboration both with and between Commonwealth countries. This year’s theme coincides with the UK hosting the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later this year. In context, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said ‘Team spirit brings the enormous strength of solidarity, unity and of collective striving for greater achievement. We draw inspiration and understanding from one another, and our combined efforts build resilience. Working together, we win.’
As part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Wilton Park has held numerous conferences that have engaged in issues around the Commonwealth countries. In 2012 we ran a conference and dinner on Sustainable economic growth in small island states, which predominately consisted of Commonwealth countries. The conference examined how policymakers, investors, academics, civil society and communities can make better use of the tools available to mitigate the challenge of economic growth for small island economies, magnified by their unique geographic situation and their exposure to climate-based risk, and to work together more cooperatively, learning best practice from one another in order to support commerce and economic development.
As well as running conferences in our West Sussex location, Wilton Park also chairs conferences across the world including two held in Commonwealth countries over the past six months. In December we travelled to South Africa to run a conference on HIV/AIDS treatment and in January we ran an event on improving disaster risk reduction in the Horn of Africa.
Finally, in November last year, homosexuality was reported illegal in 41 out of 53 Commonwealth countries. Our upcoming conference on LGBT rights in September will bring together multilateral institutions, national governments and advocacy groups, many from Commonwealth Nations, to consider how to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons.
Conference: Scaling up HIV/AIDS treatment as prevention
Conference: Promoting LGBT rights