H.E. Mr. Joseph Cole – CHOGM 2015 Malta
H.E. Mr. Joseph Cole, Ambassador of the Republic of Malta
Malta hosts High-level Summits in November
Coming November, Malta will be buzzing with activity when it hosts two important international events:
These two high-level meetings will bring to Malta leaders from the European and African continent as well as leaders from Commonwealth countries to discuss issues of mutual interest and coordinate together how to face current international challenges.
The EU Africa Summit aka the Valletta Summit
The Mediterranean Sea, the cradle of civilisation, has been marked by more than one tragic story of doomed boats that fail to make it to a safe harbour leading to an unprecedented number of lives lost at sea. Recent events of migrants flooding EU territory consolidates the argument that immigration is not a Mediterranean problem but a European and to a certain extent a global challenge.
It has now become apparent that the phenomenon of migration is an ever-evolving one, as demonstrated by the recent developments that engulfed Central Europe and the Western Balkans.
It bears pointing out Malta’s long standing position in various fora has been that the magnitude of the problem is huge and can no longer be pushed to the margins of Europe’s agenda. So many lives could have been saved if only the international community addressed the signs more promptly.
More specifically on the EU, European solidarity is an aspect we have been most keen on and that it has now become apparent that the EU cannot function without its proper implementation. Despite its limitations, Malta is participating fully in the relocation and resettlement package recently agreed by the EU Heads of Government.
While in the past Europe might have been subject to economic migration from people leaving behind dire economic situations to try a new start in a more economically viable country, migrants reaching European shores today are increasingly escaping wars, persecution and violence.
Malta finds itself at the crossroads between the Middle East, Europe and Africa so it makes it the ideal place where to convene a gathering of statesmen to discuss the challenges of migration and together device mechanisms how to mitigate and manage this phenomenon.
On 11-12 November 2015, Malta will host an EU-Africa Summit bringing together the leaders of the European Union and key African nations. The Summit will be an opportunity to enhance the dialogue and improve the understanding between both continents. It will build on existing cooperation processes between Europe and Africa, particularly the Rabat and Khartoum processes on migration, and the EU-Africa Dialogue on Migration and Mobility.
EU member states, African countries that are members of the Rabat and Khartoum processes, observers to the Rabat process, representatives of the African Union Commission and the Economic Community of West African States Commission, the United Nations and the International Office of Migration have been invited to join the Summit.
All stakeholders will work in a spirit of partnership to find common solutions to current challenges.
To quote the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon:
“Europe and Africa share proximity and history, ideas and ideals, trade and technology. Both continents are tied together by the ebb and flow of people. Migration presents policy challenges – but also represents an opportunity to enhance human development, promote decent work, and strengthen collaboration”.
It will be in this spirit that European and African leaders will meet in Malta in November 2015.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)
The Commonwealth is a voluntary organisation of 53 independent and equal sovereign states. It is home to 2.2 billion people and includes some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries coming from five regions worldwide. Thirty-one of the Commonwealth’s members are small states, many of them, including Malta, are island nations.
The objectives of the Commonwealth are to promote democracy, rule of law, human rights, good governance and social and economic development. It also works towards a sustained Commonwealth that is mutually respectful, resilient, peaceful and prosperous and that cherishes quality, diversity and shared values.
Priority areas of work are agreed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM), which is held every two years. The next CHOGM will be held in Malta on 27-29 November 2015.This will be the second opportunity for Malta to host CHOGM, having organised successfully this event in 2005.
The theme chosen for CHOGM 2015 is “Commonwealth – Adding Global Value” – underscores the desire of Commonwealth Heads of Government to culminate their country’s aspirations towards a dynamic Organisation that can address global issues united and effectively. It is also about making a positive difference to the lives of Commonwealth citizens.
Four side-events are being hosted by Malta in parallel to CHOGM. These are the Business Forum, the People’s Forum, the Youth Forum, and for the first time in the story of CHOGM, the Women’s Forum, which has been launched upon Malta’s initiative. These events are expected to bring together representatives of the Civil Society from all regions of Commonwealth, providing them with the opportunity to exchange views and best practices, and also to express their thoughts and concerns to the various authorities.
The Commonwealth is well represented in most global institutions and makes up a quarter of the membership of the United Nations; currently four Commonwealth countries serve on the United Nations Security Council; has a strong representation in the Caribbean Community; has three members in the European Union; two members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and; five countries represented in the G20.
The Commonwealth is therefore well positioned to influence world affairs and CHOGM 2015 will strengthen the Commonwealth’s ability with soft and smart power to influence the international agenda.
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