THE STATE has little choice but to utilise this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London as an opportunity to deepen this country’s collaboration with its international partners.
It may be easy to criticise the cost of yet another foreign trip and to accuse our Cabinet officials of embarking on a joyride. But failure to attend events in London will likely be costlier to the State in the long run. In heading to the Summit, measures can easily be implemented to minimise costs while at the same time maximising productivity. But if there is anything the events of the last few weeks have demonstrated it is the importance of foreign affairs to the welfare of this nation.
Accordingly, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has little choice but to head to London to use the opportunity, for instance, to make amends for the embarrassing foreign affairs faux pas in relation to Commonwealth member Dominica; to rally fellow Commonwealth nations over the parlous situation in Venezuela; and to deepen talks on security co-operation. The London trip will also be used to address anti-corruption matters as well as to further talks with some energy giants who have kept faith with TT and sees it still as a spot worthy of their investment.
Unusually for an international summit, the CHOGM brings together leaders from the worlds of business, civil society and government. The Commonwealth is, therefore, an important forum which can be used to harness trade and to build a more prosperous world. It is also a key body in the global move to mitigate the effects of climate change.
CHOGM meetings have also historically served to protect and promote shared values, including human rights. In this regard, it should be noted that one issue which has been flagged for the attention of Commonwealth leaders is the status of LGBTQ rights in former colonies that have retained archaic British colonial laws.
At a time when old ways of thinking are being challenged all around us, it is also important to note that around 60 per cent of the Commonwealth are under the age of 30. If the CHOGM is to have the impact that it should it needs to be mindful that it is about devising a better future, not towing the agenda of a bygone past.