Media Statement

13 March 2017

Commonwealth Day Message from the Government of South Africa

Today, Monday, 13 March 2017, Commonwealth countries as a symbol of their solidarity, are celebrating Commonwealth Day under the theme “A peace-building Commonwealth.

The theme provides members with the opportunity to reflect on the status of the global community in which we live, where a rise in insecurity is gripping both developing and developed states, where the displacement of populations is growing and where our world is characterised by stark inequality, marginalization, exclusion, racism and sectarian divides.

South Africa holds the view that while we must undoubtedly aim to strengthen the tools at our disposal in addressing conflicts as they arise, we must also prioritise a preventive approach in addressing conflict and its root causes. In this context, South Africa is of the view that peace and stability in the world will remain elusive if we do not address the nexus between security and development. The nature of conflicts reveals that conflicts may be aggravated by dispute-related economic development issues, including access water and natural resources.

South Africa believes that sustainable peace can only be achieved by building a just world and rules-based international order, which is inclusive and addresses the root causes of conflicts such as poverty, injustice and discrimination. Without genuine commitment, we will not come closer to the realization of peace. The members of the Commonwealth should work together to support national, regional and international efforts in this regard in the areas where the Commonwealth could add value.

The foundation and strength of the Commonwealth lies in the combination of its diversity and shared inheritance in language, culture and the rule of law, bound together by shared history and tradition, by respect for all states and peoples, by shared values and principles and by our concern for the vulnerable.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 52 independent and equal sovereign states. This “family” of nations is home to 2, 2 billion citizens, including 18 African, 7 Asian, 13 Caribbean and Americas (Canada), 3 European and 11 Pacific members. The Commonwealth provides a voice to the world’s largest and richest countries as well as to the smallest and poorest countries that for part of its membership.  The richness of experiences and backgrounds should encourage the organisation to do more to address current and future challenges.

The Commonwealth community of nations has not been immune to developmental challenges. Our challenges are numerous and diverse. These challenges persist making it difficult for some nations to realise their full potential and thus improve the lives of their people.  It is in this context that the Commonwealth must continue to build and maintain our close relations as a family of nations to promote sustainable development. This must go hand in hand with continuous efforts to seek sustainable peace and to entrench a culture of peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Numerous events and activities around the theme will take to commemorate Commonwealth Day in Commonwealth member countries. This will include HM Queen Elizabeth II, as Head of the Commonwealth,   delivering her Commonwealth Day message and leading a multi-faith observance at Westminster Abbey in London.

On Commonwealth Day, South Africa joins in celebrating the Commonwealth’s values and principles and search for a better world. We will continue to work with in the Commonwealth to bring our citizens closely together and to advance the goals of peace and development.

Enquiries: Clayson Monyela, 082 884 5974


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