Monday, March 8, 2010

'Vinaka' & Thank you:'Commonwealth Conversation Team' for your Leadership in this Forum for Commonwealth Family

Dear Commonwealth Team,
Please, accept this as our sincere thanks for having put together such a vibrant forum where all people from all walks of life were given the opportunity to connect and share their thoughts about being in or out of the Commonwealth.

It was an honour & priviledge for Luvei Viti (Children of Fiji) Community in Aotearoa & those Fiji people from Fiji & around the world who sent in their emails and blogs to be submitted with our report to the Commonwealth Conversation Team. Just knowing that we can look back in time and know that CC team had given us this valuable opportunity to share our thoughts and aspirations about the Commonwealth is a blessing in disguise.

Compiling those reports & trying to meet the deadline for October 2009 was a challenge in itself. For those of us finetuning the final report, the task gave us a sense of achievement and a feeling of belonging to the Commonwealth fold even though when deep down we knew Fiji's membership had a question mark against it. Nevertheless, Zoe & her team guided us through with care, listening & hearing our stories.

Though our troubled, Nation, Fiji is just a blob in Oceania, the Commonwealth Conversation Team gave us the leadership and the platform which enabled us to echo & pen what matters to us on this side of the globe when it comes to the question of being under the Commonwealth. At the very least, we believe, the voices of the ordinary Fiji peope worldwide had been heard.

Thank you for this awesome opportunity. We will follow with keen interest any developments spearheaded by the Commonwealth Conversation Team. The term 'Conversation' has now become a Global Buzz word!!
Vinaka Vakalevu.
Luvei Viti (Children of Fiji) Think Tank Team at VUW.

Read more;
Commonwealth Conversation: Final Report Published.

After eight months of consultation, today we draw the Commonwealth Conversation to a close with the publication of our final report, 'An Uncommon Association, A Wealth of Potential', which sets out ten key recommendations. You can see a Summary of these, or for the more ambitious amongst you, the Full Report online. Below, you can read our press release.

We hope that you will judge these findings to be an accurate representation of all that you have told us over the last few months. We are enormously grateful for the selfless contributions of so many people around the world. Without your enthusiastic participation, this project would not have been possible. The time for talk is now coming to an end. But it is imperative that all those with ambition, those willing to challenge the status quo, those who want to see the Commonwealth thrive over the coming years continue to question, to push, to act.

When we published our draft recommendations on the Conversation website, the mood of one commentator was jubilant: "I'm so happy that we did something and that we are in the process of forming an organisation that considers the public's view with great care and concern. Thank you for letting us participate in all these discussions and for bringing us together." To him we say, this is only the beginning...
The Commonwealth Conversation Team

Weakening Commonwealth needs dose of ambition
The largest-ever public consultation on the future of the Commonwealth concludes with a call for bold reform and greater investment if the 54-member association is to avoid being marginalised in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

'An Uncommon Association, A Wealth of Potential', the final report of the Commonwealth Conversation, is published today to coincide with annual Commonwealth Day celebrations around the world.

Once a major player on the world stage, the report argues that the association has neither the clout nor the resources to fulfil its potential. Its official institutions, charged with promoting development and democracy across its member states, have a workforce half a percent of the United Nations and an annual budget one percent of that of the UK Department for International Development. The Secretariat's budget has dropped by 21 percent in real terms within the last twenty years, despite the number of Commonwealth members rising from 48 to 54.

The report also argues that additional funding will be no panacea. The association is perceived as failing to live out its values and principles. Bolder leadership, more ambition and innovation, and a better use of its unique strengths will be crucial to its long-term survival.

Run by The Royal Commonwealth Society between July 2009 and March 2010, the Commonwealth Conversation gathered the opinions of tens of thousands of people through a range of methods including a website, opinion polling, surveys, events and online focus groups. Its final report contains ten recommendations for the whole Commonwealth "family":

1. The Commonwealth must "walk the talk" on the values and principles it claims to stand for.

2. The Commonwealth needs stronger leadership if it is to have a meaningful voice on world affairs.

3. The Commonwealth is often seen as anachronistic and fusty. It needs to become bolder and much more innovative in the ways that it works.

4. To attract more investment and correct misperceptions of being largely ceremonial, the Commonwealth needs to prove its worth by measuring and demonstrating its impact.

5. The Commonwealth must stop spreading its limited resources too thinly and instead identify and exploit its unique strengths.

6. Greater investment is needed if the Commonwealth is to fulfil its potential.

7. The Commonwealth is a complex association. It must clearly communicate its identity, purpose and achievements in an accessible way.

8. Lengthy Commonwealth communiques and statements appear unfocused and unattainable. They must be used to set priorities.

9. The Commonwealth is as much an association of peoples as it is of governments. The interaction between the two requires significant improvement.

10. The Commonwealth is often seen as elitist. It must reach wider, become less insular and engage beyond narrow Commonwealth circles.

Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Dr Danny Sriskandarajah said:

"The Commonwealth needs a bold 21st century makeover. At its founding, Nehru had ambitious hopes that the Commonwealth could bring a "touch of healing" to the world. But, today, the Secretariat's annual budget is less than what British people spend daily on health and beauty products.

More money will help, but to fulfil its potential, the Commonwealth must make more innovative use of its resources and networks. I hope the results of this consultation will act as the catalyst for change."
What will happen to the website?
The Commonwealth Conversation website will be maintained as an archive for the foreseeable future, so that all the content and your comments can continue to be accessed.

For more up-to-date information about the ongoing work of the RCS, see

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