New Delhi, June 21 (FN Bureau) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will be leading the Indian delegation to Kigali, capital of Rwanda, from June 22-25 for the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The CHOGM had earlier been postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic. EAM Jaishankar will be representing Prime Minister of India at the Commonwealth Summit on June 24-25 as well as attending the pre-CHOGM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on June 23 in Kigali. A number of Forums including the Commonwealth Youth Forum, Commonwealth Women Forum, Commonwealth Business Forum, Commonwealth People’s Forum, and other side-events are also planned on the sidelines of CHOGM by the incoming Chair of the Commonwealth, i.e. the Government of the Republic of Rwanda. The theme of the 26th CHOGM Summit is: “Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming”.
The Leaders of the Commonwealth Member States are scheduled to deliberate on issues of contemporary relevance, including global challenges like – climate change, food security, health issues and likely to adopt the following four Outcome Documents: CHOGM Communique; Kigali Declaration on Child Care and Protection Reform; Declaration on Sustainable Urbanization and Commonwealth Living Lands Charter: A Commonwealth Call to Action on Living Lands (CALL). During the visit, EAM Jaishankar is expected to hold several bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Commonwealth member states and other visiting dignitaries. He would also be interacting with members of the Indian community at a reception to be hosted by the Indian High Commission in Kigali. The Commonwealth provides an important platform to deepen India’s engagement with Commonwealth members, in particular the Small States (SS) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). India is also one of the largest contributors to the Commonwealth and has assisted the organisation with technical assistance and capacity building.
In 2018, India announced the creation of a Commonwealth Window, dedicating US$50 million for development projects and assistance to developing countries of the Commonwealth, an official statement said. Rwanda is hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The meeting was due to be held in 2020 but has been delayed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be the first in-person meeting of Commonwealth leaders since the London CHOGM in 2018. Prince Charles will represent the Queen and open the meeting. The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will also hand over the role of chair-in-office of the Commonwealth to the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. Rwanda is the most recent country to have joined the Commonwealth, in 2009. This will be the first CHOGM held in Africa since Uganda in 2007. The Commonwealth is an association of 54 member-states, including the UK, Jamaica, South Africa, and Pakistan. It has a population of 2.5 billion (around a third of the world’s population), and a collective Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimated at US$13 trillion in 2020. The Commonwealth collaborates on issues such as human rights, trade, climate change and democracy through formal meetings such as CHOGMs and the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat and country leaders. The chair-in-office represents the Commonwealth at international meetings and supports the “good offices” work of the Secretariat (such as mediation and arbitration). The Secretariat is responsible for its day-to-day work. CHOGMs normally take place every two years. These operate by consensus, and a communiqué is issued at the end of each. The last CHOGM was held in London in 2018. This year’s CHOGM will be the 26th since the first in 1971. CHOGM’s theme is “Delivering a common future: Connecting, innovating, transforming.” This includes protecting natural resources and increasing trade. The Rwandan Government has also identified health as a key focus. This is likely to include discussion of the effects of Covid-19 on wider health services and ongoing Commonwealth commitments to halve malaria in the Commonwealth by 2023 and ensure access to quality eye care.