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Commonwealth Chair-In-Office Report Addendum 2020-2022

Statement made on 19 May 2022

Statement UIN HCWS37


My noble Friend the Minister for South and Central Asia, North Africa, United Nations and the Commonwealth (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon), has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The UK has been Commonwealth Chair in Office (CiO) since hosting the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April 2018, during which Heads committed to a range of ambitious actions to build a fairer, prosperous, more sustainable and more secure Commonwealth. In September 2020, we published a comprehensive report detailing our work with Commonwealth member states and partners to deliver against the 2018 Commonwealth summit commitments, entitled UK Commonwealth Chair-In-Office Report 2018-20: this document was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

CHOGM is normally convened every two years and the 26th CHOGM was due to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, in June 2020. Due to the pandemic, it has been postponed twice and the UK’s tenure as CiO subsequently extended. Having now served four years as CiO, the UK will pass on the baton to Rwanda as CHOGM host this June. Given these developments, I am pleased today to give notice to the House that a further short report entitled UK Commonwealth Chair-in-Office Report Addendum 2020-2022 has been deposited in the Libraries of the House.

The report sets out the UK’s continued delivery and achievements against Heads’ commitments under the CHOGM18 themes. It highlights specific action taken on health security given the critical need to adapt and respond to the pandemic, which included the UK supporting the delivery of over 1.4 billion vaccine doses to 52 Commonwealth countries.

The UK has prioritised the strengthening and renewal of the Commonwealth and remains the largest single donor to the Commonwealth intergovernmental organisations and their programmes. It has worked to boost the voice of the Commonwealth on the world stage: in October 2020, the first Commonwealth statement in the UN Human Rights Council was delivered on behalf of all member states by the UK’s International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French.

As Chair-in-Office, the UK has aimed to build a fairer Commonwealth for all its citizens, highlighting member states’ collective commitment to the shared values of human rights and the rule of law, as enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter. Through the UK’s continued funding of dedicated Human Rights Advisers at the Commonwealth Small States Office (CSSO), we have helped to strengthen the capacity of small and developing Commonwealth member countries to participate more actively across a range of human rights fora.

The Commonwealth has an important role to play in supporting global growth, creating employment, and reaffirming commitment to a rules-based, free, open and fair multilateral trading system. In this regard, the UK has been an unwavering advocate for intra-Commonwealth trade and has worked to remove trade barriers and deepen economic partnerships. For example, the UK-funded She Trades Commonwealth programme has helped over 3,500 women-owned businesses become more competitive and generate over £32 million in sales.

At CHOGM18, Heads recognised the unprecedented impacts of climate change across the world, and launched the Commonwealth Blue Charter to respond to the existential threat posed by the deteriorating health of the ocean. The UK has been a consistent champion of the Blue Charter over the last four years and co-funded the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub (CFAH), which has mobilised over US$38 million to support some of the most climatically vulnerable Commonwealth countries.

Heads pledged to build a more secure future for all citizens at CHOGM18. Backed by over £15 million of programme funding, the UK has worked with all Commonwealth countries to strengthen their cyber security in support of an open, democratic, peaceful and secure cyber space.

The UK looks forward to the gathering of the Commonwealth family in June, falling in between the celebrations of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. We remain steadfastly committed to our partnership with this unique association of 54 equal and independent member states, which continues to deliver robust benefits to Commonwealth citizens across the globe.

Linked statements

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
Commonwealth Chair-In-Office Report Addendum 2020-2022
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister for South and Central Asia, North Africa, United Nations and the Commonwealth
Conservative, Life peer
Statement made 19 May 2022