Hyderabad

‘Commonwealth needs more presence in international community’

For fulfilling commitments: Philip Parham, the United Kingdom’s envoy to Commonwealth, addressing a gathering in the city.  

The Commonwealth should make itself be heard in the international community, loud and clear, feels Philip Parham, the United Kingdom’s envoy to Commonwealth.

Mr. Philip, who is currently in the city, said Commonwealth has hardly any voice despite having its members in different continents. The international community should understand Commonwealth’s collective strength and the values that it stands for. “It does not exert leadership in the international scene as it should be,” he said speaking to The Hindu.

British Prime Minister Theresa May pitched for the same in her speech at the U.N. General Assembly when she said that the Commonwealth should work in international systems and make its participation more qualitative and sustainable, Mr. Parham said.

India’s role

Arguing that India’s role would be significant in Commonwealth, he reminded that the country forms half of the population of 52-member nations and a third of the Commonwealth’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “It is already a key player in the international trade and other fora. Naturally, it will have to lead the association in tackling the challenges that it faces. Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the CHOGHM in London last June after a long gap and it’s a sign of India’s leadership and participation,” he opined. The strength of the Commonwealth lies in its diversity with 53 members cutting across continents apart from the non-governmental organisations and networks. On the commitments of the Commonwealth, he revealed that there were some concrete issues being tackled as per the decisions made at CHOGHM in London last year.

To increase the volume of trade and facilitate better cooperation, it has been working on the connectivity agenda with focus on physic and digital connectivity between the member States. This would help in reaching the target set for $2 trillion trade between the countries from the present half-a-trillion.

Smaller nations are bound to get the benefit due to connectivity with larger economies, while efforts are on to help the member States adopt international standards in global trade practices. “Security is an important aspect and the cyber declaration made in London is ensuring that cyber security audit is done by all the member nations before they gather for the next meet at Kigali, Rwanda in 2020,” , Mr. Philip said.

Another major commitment is to extend 12 years of quality education to all the children by 2030 and the U.K. has committed £2 million in nine countries. He said the United Kingdom has committed over £500 million for transforming the commitments into reality. But at the same time, he said the Commonwealth was not owned by the U.K. and every member has equal rights and equal responsibility in fulfilling them.

Women entrepreneurs

Helping women entrepreneurs bring their businesses into international trade, taking concrete steps to reduce plastic in oceans, which has proved to be a huge environmental challenge, and reducing incidents of malaria by half by 2023 as 90% of malaria-affected people are in Commonwealth countries are other major work commitments.

Mr. Philip opined that the Commonwealth can tackle the issues between the member countries much better as they share a common language and history.

“It can work discreetly where member States are challenged in dealing with issues like extremism. In fact, under the Security Head, it is already doing some useful work in dealing with it,” he added.

On the impact of Brexit on Commonwealth, the former Ambassador to the UAE, said they both were different issues. Britain would continue to have a strong relationship with the European Union. Commonwealth is a free association and the role of Britain would be different there, he said.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2020 4:45:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/commonwealth-needs-more-presence-in-international-community/article25981376.ece

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