Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has said despite the enormous collective resources, a number of Commonwealth member countries are still saddled with poverty and marginalisation.
“Our countries have also not been spared the devastating effects of climate change, environmental degradation, social deprivation, as well as terrorism, which continue to present serious challenges to international peace and security,” she said.
“Again, while a growing number of Commonwealth countries are enjoying favourable economic achievements, many others are still struggling in their efforts to achieve their poverty reduction and Sustainable Development objectives.”
Ms Botchwey, speaking at the Flag-Raising ceremony to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Commonwealth in Accra, said the state of affairs presented a sense of hopelessness and despair across societies within the Commonwealth and constitutes an affront to the common sense of humanity, which increasingly posed a threat to social cohesion and progress.
This year’s theme for the celebration was: “A connected Commonwealth”.
She said the Commonwealth member countries were in a unique position to strengthen collaboration and partnership because no group of countries in the world enjoyed such a wealth of common features, including a common language, administrative and legal machinery modelled after that of Britain.
The Minister noted the very organisation of the Commonwealth, therefore, offered a rare opportunity for member states and urged all leaders to seize the moment to better the lives of the people.
“As we celebrate 70 years of the Commonwealth, it is important to recognise that the organisation has provided a veritable platform for a diverse group, which includes the world’s largest and smallest, richest and poorest countries spanning five continents to work together at many levels through far-reaching and deep-rooted networks of friendship and goodwill.”
Ms Botchwey said Ghana joined the Commonwealth as a young independent nation in 1957 not only because it was considered a club of former British colonies but because “we believed in the fundamental political values of the organisation, including democracy, freedom, respect for human rights, the rule of law and opportunity for all”.
She said since joining the Commonwealth, Ghana had played an active role in the realisation of those shared values.
“Our belief in freedom for all our African brothers and sisters at the time of independence mirrored the Commonwealth’s role, as the most ardent champions of the process of decolonisation, which Ghana set in motion on the African Continent,” she added.
“Remarkably, it was Ghana that spearheaded the movement to establish an impartial and neutral secretariat for the Commonwealth in 1965.”
Mr John Apea, the Africa Head of Royal Commonwealth Society, who read the Queen’s speech, said the Day had special significance.
It marked the 70th Anniversary of the London Declaration, when nations of the Commonwealth agreed to move forward together as free and equal members.
He said that vision and sense of connection, which inspired the signatories, had stood the test of time and the Commonwealth continued to grow, adapting to address contemporary needs.
“Today, many millions of people around the world are drawn together because of the collective values shared by the Commonwealth…”
“With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real,” he said.