Commonwealth day Celebration In Perspective
By Elorm Ametepe
The annual Commonwealth Day celebration by member states of former
British colonies and territories has customarily become a rallying point
for member countries to assess the achievements of their association.
It is also a period for the people to reflect and celebrate the values the
organization stands for. These values, among other things, include
democracy, respect for human rights, and rule of law, peace, justice, co-
operation and sustainable development.
In addition, it is a period to strategise to meet the ever-increasing
challenges facing member states.
The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association made up of 53
independent sovereign states with a population of 1.7 billion people,
making a third of the world’s population and second to the United
Nations in size as international organization.
The modern Commonwealth is just over 50 years old, and was born in the
19th century. In 1867, Canada became the first colony to be transformed
into self-governed ‘Dominion’.
The Commonwealth started transforming after the Second World War. A
conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in 1949 decided to revise
the criterion of Commonwealth membership, hitherto restricted to
countries owing allegiance to the ‘Crown’. Ghana became the first
African nation to join the association in 1957.
The Commonwealth has evolved into a partnership of nations. They have
a tradition of mutual cooperation that stems from their common history.
This, they do by sharing their skills and help enhance the lives of their
It is a vibrant and growing association of states in tune with the present-
day world and reflective of the new reality. Its commitment to racial
equality and national sovereignty explains why emerging nations in the
1950s and 60s chose to be part of it.
The Commonwealth has also grown into a modern international
association that is ready to meet future challenges. Together, members of
the Commonwealth work to ensure respect for good governance,
sustainable development, human rights and international peace and
The Commonwealth Heads of Governments assemble from time to time
to exchange views on important international issues. At these meetings,
the leaders seek to identify common goals in economic and foreign
They work to coordinate their national policies to pursue good goals,
even though member nations are not required to comply with conclusions
reached at their conferences.
Connoisseurs from member countries help educate young people about
HIV/AIDS. They also work with medical staff to improve healthcare
systems everywhere and devise workable solutions to help manage the
migration of health workers from needed areas.
It is in view of the above achievements and others that the second
Monday in March of each year has been set aside to commemorate the
day in all the 53 member states.
Member countries celebrate the beliefs, principles and diversity of people
and cultures of the Commonwealth. Governments, organizations and
schools of Commonwealth states pay tribute to the special partnerships
amongst themselves though their participation in Commonwealth Day
At the launch of this year’s Commonwealth Day Celebration in Ghana,
Foreign Minister, Hon. Nana Akufo-Addo, called on member countries
to, as a matter of priority, cooperate and adopt policies to halt migration
of health workers from developing to developed countries.
Speaking on the theme “Health and Vitality: the Commonwealth
Challenge”, Nana Akufo-Addo observed that the health challenges facing
members of the Commonwealth, which include the threat of avian flu,
HIV/AIDS and other diseases in the world today are not limited to
geographical or political boundaries.
Many developing countries, particularly in Africa, have lost significant
number of health workers through migration to developed countries,
which he described, as a threat to their health systems.
The establishment of meaningful facilities and schemes to enable both
developed and developing world protect their health systems is what is
Mr. Allie Bangura, representative of Commonwealth High
Commissioner, said the association continue to be an active force in
global affairs, promoting peace and justice and helping to build consensus
around the world.
The association through determination and collective actions could help
tackle challenges such as the scourge of terrorism, the third world
indebtedness and growing imbalances in trade, which could not be
handled by only one country.
Member countries of the Commonwealth, Mr. Bangura said, should
continue to work together to build a better world.
In her welcome address, Nana Oye Lithur, coordinator of the
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Africa Office, said the
commemoration of the Commonwealth Day and the various initiatives
have helped and continue to help connect people of the Commonwealth
through common institutions.
It has also helped connect them through history and the values to
communicate, working together and further strengthen their bond of
friendship for a better future, she added.
One important event on the Commonwealth calendar is the
Commonwealth Games. It is an important sporting event as well as
important in the life of the commonwealth.
Due to its unique nature, the event is also referred to as ‘Friendly Games’
because it goes beyond sports, by bringing and uniting the peoples of the
71 countries and territories that make up the Commonwealth.
In line with this, the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia in
2006 with the objective of bringing families together adopted “United by
Movement” as its motto to further strengthen the bond of friendship
between peoples of the commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Secretary General, Mr. Don McKinnon, stated that
‘Commonwealth Day is about celebrating the common values that bind
our people together,’ with these values, we share a common vision and
work towards a common future.
‘It is the hope of peoples of all member countries that the Commonwealth
would continue to grow and help unite their people, address issues
confronting their various countries and devise new strategies to tackle
new challenges ahead’, Mr. McKinnon concluded.
The Writer Is A Staff Of ISD