13 March 2023
South Africa observes Commonwealth Day
On 13 March 2023, member countries of the Commonwealth will commemorate Commonwealth Day.
The year 2022, was marked by several historic changes in the Commonwealth. During the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that took place in Kigali, Rwanda on 24 and 25 June 2022, Rwanda assumed the chairship of the Commonwealth and will retain the position until the next CHOGM, which will take place in Samoa in 2024.
Baroness Patricia Scotland was re-elected as the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and she will serve for an additional two years until the Samoa CHOGM in 2024. CHOGM 2022 also admitted Gabon and Togo as new members, thus bringing the total membership to 56 countries.
The addition of new states to the Commonwealth family is indicative that the organisation has become more responsive to the development goals of developing countries. The Commonwealth provides a platform for mutual support and growth and challenging issues faced by many developing countries.
Commonwealth Heads of Government have declared 2023 the Year of the Youth. The Commonwealth Year of the Youth initiative also marks the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP). In August 2023, the CYP will mark 50 years of working hand-in-hand with governments to support the education and personal development of millions of young people and giving thousands more the opportunity to sit beside world leaders and advocate for their peers.
On 8 September 2022, Queen Elizabeth II passed away ending 70 years of duty and service to the people of the United Kingdom and the 56 members of the Commonwealth and His Majesty, King Charles III was announced as the Head of the Organisation.
South Africa would like to use this special day to congratulate His Majesty, King Charles III on his new position as Head of the Commonwealth. As in the past, South Africa will cooperate with the Commonwealth family of nations to create a better life for its citizens through economic transformation and collaboration in the fields of education and skills development, women and youth empowerment, technology and innovation, health, climate change, as well as trade and investment. The country will also continue to work closely with all Commonwealth members, contributing financially, and in terms of providing capacity and expertise to the work of the Organisation.
South Africa also believes that the Commonwealth continues to play an important role to in a world where there is increasing pushback against the forces promoting collective action and international solidarity and cooperation. The Organisation, which represents countries from across the development spectrum should use its unique position to continue calling for the strengthening of existing multilateral mechanisms and institutions and transform them to suit current global realities. The Commonwealth provides an opportunity to address issues of common interest, including implementation of development goals and the reform of constitutions of global governance, in particular the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the United Nations.
The Commonwealth must remain at the forefront of the struggle for the advancement and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, gender equality and women empowerment.
The 56 members of the Commonwealth will be able to assist each other, only through increased solidarity, to address the challenges we are currently facing. This will ensure that the Commonwealth continues to remain relevant and grow.
On Commonwealth Day, South Africa once again renews its pledge to uphold and serve the values and fellowship of the Commonwealth.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road