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"The Commonwealth needs to prioritise the needs of members"
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"The Commonwealth needs to prioritise the needs of members"

The success of grassroots movements, as seen in the Occupy protests and Arab Spring uprisings, brings into question traditional political institutions and processes, according to Joshua Hamlet, 23, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Trinidad & Tobago.

“That sky was bluest when I could beat my mates at examination time, or beat them at a foot-race, or even beat their stringy heads. Alas, with the years all this fine contempt began to fade; for the worlds I longed for, and all their dazzling opportunities, were theirs, not mine”. (W.E.B Du Bois)

Last year the powerful actions of political will – the many protests that led to the downfall of dictators in the Middle East or rallies against capitalism in the US – came not from decision-makers, but from the grassroots.

COP 17, the United Nations’ climate change conference, concluded with only the ‘promise’ of agreeing a universal legal document on Climate Change by 2015. The World Trade Organization’s ministerial meeting produced few concrete results except for preferential treatment for least developed countries.

This raises questions about the nature and position of politics in addressing issues as a philosophy and, secondly, as a course of action. In truth, the future of many global institutions is in doubt.

Young people have continually cried for politics to address the relationship between society’s haves and ‘have nots’. These disparities illustrate the need of the poor and the desire of the rich for more. (W.E.B Du Bois expressed the discomfort of a poor existence in a ‘land of dollars’ as the very bottom of hardships)

This discussion is important for two reasons which are relevant to Commonwealth countries. Trinidad & Tobago’s history is played out as a by-product of external forces – or the interaction between colonial powers – and not because of the self-determination movement. It achieved ‘developed country’ status not on its own, but by being awarded it by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Then there are policies disconnected from the desires of the population. Sections two and three of the recent CHOGM 2011 communiqué recognises this, noting that the Commonwealth as an organisation needs to reprioritize towards the needs of its members. It says: “Revitalising the Commonwealth’s development priorities to ensure it effectively articulates and meets the development needs of member states today and in the future.”

Institutions vested with respect and authority must be questioned. There is much need to understand the increase of people living below the poverty line within the Commonwealth. The economic success of my nation is worthless if the suffering of the unprivileged is not alleviated.

This issue is prevalent throughout the Commonwealth, and as such demands further investigation. As Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma advised, speaking to the African delegation recently, a lack of efficiency in governance, politics and the economy indicate the need to cease doings things in a “business as usual” fashion.

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About me:

In life my goal is to inspire and motivate. My passion lies in youth mobilization with particular focus on politics. I am a spontaneous person and yearn for new experiences. My articles reflect my academic orientation as well as experiences that define my life. The goal is honesty, to applaud where needed and scold where required. I recently graduated.

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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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