His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams KGN, GCMG, KSt.J, MBBS
Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda
Remarks at the Commonwealth Day March 2018.
Monday March 12, 2018
It is a great pleasure for Lady Williams and I to be celebrating the 2018 Commonwealth Day activities which included an inspiring Thanksgiving Service which was held at the St John’s Seventh-day Adventist Church yesterday afternoon and now today’s March for the Commonwealth culminating at Government House.
We applaud the organizing committee for its hard work in putting together a good programme aimed at bringing greater awareness to the value of the Commonwealth and join in congratulating the winners of the 2017 Commonwealth Essay Competition who were presented with their awards this morning.
Antigua and Barbuda is a member of this special organization and I believe that it is important for all citizens and residents to know as much as we can about the entity we are a part of.
What is the Commonwealth?
The Commonwealth of Nations, formerly the British Commonwealth, also known as simply the Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of 53-member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire. It was formally established by the London Declaration in 1949. The main office of the Commonwealth is the Commonwealth Secretariat which is managed by a Secretary General. The present Secretary General, who is of West Indian Heritage is Baroness Patricia Scotland. The Secretary General is aware of the special needs of small island developing states like our own Antigua and Barbuda. An important achievement of the Commonwealth took place in June 2017 at the United Nations Ocean Conference when the Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland presented a proposal to create a Blue Charter of principles for sustainable ocean development. The proposal was greeted with the enthusiastic support of governments and partners at the event since they recognize the importance of the ocean to many small islands like ours. This proposal is helping Commonwealth member governments to “ensure maritime industries are managed in a way that preserves and promotes ocean health”. In other words, the Commonwealth Organization is working to help its members including the people of our twin island nation.
This organization was formed to ensure that there would never be another occasion where any country, by virtue of its wealth, size, population or military might would colonize or enslave another. The organization was created with sixteen (16) cores values and principles to include democracy, human rights, peace and security, tolerance, freedom of expression, good governance, gender equality and sustainable development. The Commonwealth Principles were established to recognize the sovereignty of each member nation and to enable each to have a full vote regardless of their size or economic status.
The Head of the Commonwealth is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As Governor General and the Queen’s Representative in Antigua and Barbuda, I am pleased to present her message to the 2.4 billion persons in the commonwealth nations.