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Commonwealth looks to the future
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Commonwealth looks to the future

Youth member of EPG consults with peers at India conference

The Commonwealth is carrying out a broad-based consultation on its future direction. Last year, the international association celebrated its 60th anniversary with a focus on youth, under the banner: ‘Serving a new generation’.

During their meeting in Port of Spain from 27 to 29 November 2009, Commonwealth Heads of Government agreed to the broad-based consultation, and the task of gathering opinion, information and ideas was given to theEminent Persons Group (EPG) – an 11-member panel of prominent women and men from all regions of the Commonwealth.

Samuel Kavuma, 27, the Ugandan Chair of the Regional Youth Caucus (Africa), represents youth in the EPG. He believes it is very significant that young people have been given a voice on this platform, as this will contribute towards the transformation of the Commonwealth into an association fit for the 21st century.

Youth leaders meeting in Chandigarh, India, last week, shared their ideas about changes they think are needed to carry the Commonwealth forward. The framework for their recommendations focused on how to raise the profile of the Commonwealth and the work it does, as well as how to ensure the organisation is more practical and action-oriented. Mr Kavuma believes the consultations were fruitful and is looking forward to the final report, which will be presented to Commonwealth leaders in Perth, Australia, in October next year.

Mr Kavuma, who has consulted as widely as possible with young people, with whom he comes into contact through his work with the Commonwealth Youth Caucus, and through social networking, admits it would be impossible to reach out to the full spectrum of Commonwealth youth, given the financial, geographical and time constraints of the project. “My constituency is young people from all sectors including students, civil society organisations and youth movements, in the 54 member countries. This makes it difficult to consult all representative groups,” he said.

To address this problem, the Commonwealth has created a ‘Your Commonwealth’ website, accessible at http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/, for young people to share their ideas. It will be launched early in the New Year.

Mr Kavuma believes the EPG consultation and concluding report should be given due importance: “The world has changed a lot over the last six decades and so too must the operations and structures of key international institutions such as the Commonwealth.

“Sixty per cent of Commonwealth citizens are under the age of 30. This generation will be the drivers of the new world. And it is from this group that tomorrow’s leaders will be drawn.”

The Eminent Persons Group has already met twice and two further meetings are planned for January and March 2011.

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