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"Shared history makes the Commonwealth great"
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"Shared history makes the Commonwealth great"

Fale LesaCHOGM 2013 faced controversy, writes Fale Lesa, 23, a Commonwealth Correspondent from New Zealand, but it also provided an opportunity to reflect on the positive attributes that set the Commonwealth apart.

CHOGM 2013 has been and gone by now, and analysts are busy evaluating its performance. There can be no denying that Sri Lanka pulled out all the stops to deliver another successful summit; the country and her people ought to be proud. The international exposure has been incredible, and as Sri Lanka goes on to chair the organisation it can only continue. 

New Zealand, like many others, considered boycotting the event at the advice of NGOs and other third parties. Fortunately, we chose not to because engagement is always greater than exclusion. Dialogue is more powerful than absence or silence. As a young New Zealander, I believe that we made the right decision in the spirit of cooperation and a commonality that recognises no borders. 

Regrettably, several member states publicly boycotted the occasion to highlight Sri Lanka’s record on human rights. Others chose to send ministerial representatives instead of heads of government. This does not bode well for future-proofing our Commonwealth, and adds fuel to the fires that continue to rage over the relevance of our organisation in this day and age. It doesn’t help, either, when the resolutions passed at CHOGM are non-binding on member states. 

I can’t imagine a world without the Commonwealth. Our shared history is what makes it so great. It’s something that other international bodies lack, something that makes ours unique. Sure, the model is far from perfect, and loopholes make it increasingly powerless. But it is the spirit of solidarity that drives us forward, and the commitment to cooperate with one another in spite of some differences that sets us apart from the others.  

Long live the Commonwealth! 

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About me: I bring some eight years of experience in community and youth development to his writings. In 2010, I represented New Zealand at the Commonwealth Youth Leadership Programme in Rwanda. I was also received by Her Majesty The Queen at the 2012 Diamond Jubilee during a reception at Marlborough House in her honour.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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