London, United Kingdom (23 April 2018). Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Wilfred Elrington, led Belize’s delegation to the bi-annual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in London, United Kingdom from 16th-20th April 2018. He was joined by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Laura Tucker-Longsworth; CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Patrick Andrews; wife of the Prime Minister of Belize, Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow; as well as High Commissioner of Belize to the United Kingdom, H.E. Perla Perdomo, and other representatives of the Belize High Commission.
Leaders from the fifty-three (53) countries of the Commonwealth gathered at various venues across London to discuss shared global challenges facing the members of the Commonwealth under the theme “Towards a Common Future”. Discussions focused on the four sub-themes of “A Fairer Future”, “A More Prosperous Future”, “A More Sustainable Future” and “A More Secure Future”. The fifty-three leaders agreed to common approaches to tackling these shared global challenges.
The meeting was preceded by four side events, the Business Forum, the Women’s Forum, the People’s Forum, and the Youth Forum. CEO Andrews represented Belize at the Business Forum Session on Financial Regulation: Working Together to Address De-risking. Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow served as a panelist at the People’s Forum Session on Legislative Reform in the Commonwealth. She also attended several sessions of the Women’s Forum.
Belizean youth representatives Ms. Kristin Marin, Ms. Dominique Noralez and Mr. Kris Miller, attended the Youth Forum. Belizean advocate, Mr. Caleb Orozco, attended and served as a panelist at the People’s Forum and presented Civil Society positions at the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers Meeting with Civil Society.
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II formally opened the meeting at Buckingham Palace. In her opening address, Queen Elizabeth stated: “We are one of the world’s greatest convening powers: a global association of volunteers who believe in the tangible benefits that flow from exchanging ideas and experiences and respecting each other’s point of view.”
The leaders took particular interest in issues around Climate Change, issuing a landmark “Commonwealth Blue Charter” which calls on Commonwealth countries to commit to meeting ocean commitments and inviting them to become “Blue Charter” Champions. The Government of Belize has volunteered to become a Blue Charter Champion and hopes to partner with Mauritius and Australia to create and implement programs aimed at coral reef restoration.
In addition to the Blue Charter Declaration, the Heads also approved separate declarations on Cyber Security and Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Commonwealth issued a Communique which highlights the main points of agreement among Heads of Government and included a statement in support of Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Belize has been a member of the Commonwealth since 1981.
The next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will be hosted by the Government of Rwanda in 2020.