Tuesday, 1 December 2009

TRINIDAD and TOBAGO - Rwanda has finally been admitted into the Commonwealth group of nations.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) taking place in Trinidad and Tobago yesterday evening confirmed Rwanda’s entry into the 53-nation group mainly composed of former British colonies.
“We haven’t received all the details, but it is confirmed that the Heads of State summit admitted Rwanda into the Commonwealth,” Rwanda’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Claver Gatete, told The Sunday Times from Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.
Rwanda’s admission was based on 4 grounds including democracy and democratic processes such as free and fair elections, rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, good governance including a well trained public service, and transparency.
The other aspects were the protection of human rights, freedom of expression and equal opportunity.In an interview with The Sunday Times, Louise Mushikiwabo, the government spokesperson, said that Rwanda ‘is pleased’ and welcomes the country’s admission into the elite group.
“My government sees this accession as recognition of the tremendous progress this country has made in the last 15 years,”
“Rwandans are ready to seize economic, political, cultural and other opportunities offered by the Commonwealth network,” said Mushikiwabo who also doubles as the Information Minister.
Rwanda becomes the second member to be admitted into the Commonwealth without any direct British colonial connection or constitutional link. The other country is Mozambique.
Rwanda’s bid to join the group had overwhelming support from Britain, Australia, Canada and India-the most influential countries in the group.
It also had the backing of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and the host country Trinidad and Tobago, among others.
The Commonwealth is a club of nations with a population of more than two billion and $2.8 trillion in annual trade. Its main focus is promoting trade, education and good governance among member countries.
Mushikiwabo said that Rwanda will equally have a lot to offer to the member states upon joining.
“They (Commonwealth) are also poised to share some of the lessons learned in rebuilding a nation such as consensus building, advancement of women and tolerance.” There will be a press conference today to officially announce the country’s entry into the group.[E/Kagire]


L-R. Jamaica prime Minister Bruce Golding, Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo and St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves share a joke at CHOGM 2009 in Port of Spain Nov. 27.

Commonwealth leaders agree to admit Rwanda

Commonwealth leaders holding their biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting CHOGM) in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on 28 November 2009 considered application for membership by the Republic Of Rwanda.

Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding (r) and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete
The leaders agreed to admit Rwanda as the 54th member.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning, host of CHOGM 2009, is greeted by Commonwealth

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown with St Lucia Prime Minister Stephenson King at CHOGM 2009

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma telephoned Rwanda’s President, His Excellency Paul Kagame, late on 28th November 2009 to convey the leaders’ decision

L-R. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Cyprus President Demetris Christofia and British Prime

Chairperson-in-Office, the Honourable Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago, will discuss the subject at a news conference later

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is received by Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma

The Commonwealth Climate Change DeclarationThe Challenge of Our Time

1. Climate change is the predominant global challenge. We convened a Special Session on Climate Change in Port of Spain to discuss our profound concern about the undisputed threat that climate change poses to the security, prosperity, economic and social development of our people. For many it is deepening poverty and affecting the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. For some of us, it is an existential threat.

2. We reaffirm our commitment to the Lake Victoria Commonwealth Climate Change Action Plan and its further implementation, in particular by contributing to the efforts of member states in transforming their economies and strengthening the capacity and voice of vulnerable groups.

L-R. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Cyprus President Demetris Christofia and British Prime minister
. We recognise the unprecedented opportunity of our meeting just ahead of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen. We approach Copenhagen with ambition, optimism and determination. We welcome the attendance of leaders at the Copenhagen conference. The needs of the most vulnerable must be addressed. Their voice must be heard and capacity to engage strengthened. Many of us from small island states, low-lying coastal states and least developed countries face the greatest challenges, yet have contributed least to the problem of climate change.

4. In keeping with the spirit of the theme of CHOGM 2009, `Partnering for a more equitable and sustainable future’, we warmly welcomed the United Nations Secretary General, the Prime Minister of Denmark and the President of France.

5. We represent a third of the world’s population in all continents and oceans, and more than one quarter of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We have the global reach and diversity to help forge the inclusive global solutions needed to combat climate change.

6. Science, and our own experience, tells us that we only have a few short years to address this threat. The average global temperature has risen because of the increase in carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. The latest scientific evidence indicates that in order to avoid dangerous climate change that is likely to have catastrophic impacts we must find solutions using all available avenues. We must act now.

7. We believe an internationally legally binding agreement is essential. We pledge our continued support to the leaders-driven process guided by the Danish Prime Minister and his efforts to deliver a comprehensive, substantial and operationally binding agreement in Copenhagen leading towards a full legally binding outcome no later than 2010. In Copenhagen we commit to focus our efforts on achieving the strongest possible outcome.Copenhagen and Beyond

8. A global climate change solution is central to the survival of peoples, the promotion of development and facilitation of a global transition to a low emission development path. The agreement in Copenhagen must address the urgent needs of developing countries by providing financing, support for adaptation, technology transfer, capacity building, approaches and incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and for afforestation and sustainable management of forests.

9. In addition, we will strive to significantly increase technological and technology support to developing countries to facilitate the deployment and diffusion of clean technologies through a range of mechanisms. We will work to facilitate and enable the transition to low-emission economies, climate resilience, and in particular, support, including through capacity building, for increasing the climate resilience of vulnerable economies. We will also aim to develop cleaner, more affordable and renewable energy sources. We must explore global mechanisms through which those identified technologies can be disseminated as rapidly as possible.

10. Ensuring the viability of states should underpin a shared vision for long-term cooperative action and a long-term global goal for emission reductions. In building towards an international agreement, all countries will need to play their part, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

11. We need an ambitious mitigation outcome at Copenhagen to reduce the risks of dangerous climate change without compromising the legitimate development aspirations of developing countries. We stress our common conviction that urgent and substantial action to reduce global emissions is needed and have a range of views as to whether average global temperature increase should be constrained to below 1.5 degrees or to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. We also recognise the need for an early peaking year for global emissions. Developed countries should continue to lead on cutting their emissions, and developing countries, in line with their national circumstances, should also take action to achieve a substantial deviation from business-as-usual emissions including with financial and technical support , and also supported by technology and capacity building.

12. Progress towards predictable and adequate finance for adaptation and mitigation measures must be achieved in any new multilateral approach. Public and private financial resources for developing countries will need to be scaled up urgently and substantially by 2020. We recognise that adaptation finance in particular should be targeted towards the poorest and most vulnerable countries. The provision of finance should be additional to existing official development assistance commitments. In this respect, we acknowledge the potential role of the private sector and carbon markets.

13. In addition, we recognise the need for an early start to the provision for financial resources. Fast start funding, constituting grant funding, should provide substantial support for adaptation,

Ayoub mzee at the ctn studios