To safeguard all of humanity from overlapping challenges related to the economy, environment, and security, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland KC, has called for greater cooperation.
She made the called at the weekend while addressing leaders from 121 Non-Aligned Movement countries at the 19th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement in Kampala, Uganda.
In audience were leaders, foreign affairs ministers and strategic partners
“A complex web of crises affecting the global economic, environmental, and security systems closely ties our world together,” stated the Secretary-General. These crises are serious, complex and increasingly entrenched.
“Overcoming them will require a level of international political and economic cooperation, which is unprecedented in this century.”
Scotland while acknowledging the immense pressure on the multilateral system, said she remained optimistic, adding that: “Together, we have the power to shift the balance of our fracturing world from mistrust and confrontation to dialogue and collaboration. Your perspectives are essential, and your action is imperative.”
Touching on the disproportionate impacts of the climate crisis on people, communities and economies across the Commonwealth, the Secretary-General recounted the recent devastation in Vanuatu – a member of both the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement.
“The magnificent island nation of Vanuatu was devastated by category five Cyclone Lola last year, which struck seven months after the twin cyclones Judy and Kevin decimated fifty percent of the nation’s GDP; reconstruction efforts are currently estimated to have consumed eighty percent of GDP,” the speaker stated.
The Secretary-General while expressing concern over the absence of adequate international support for climate-vulnerable developing countries, the
stressed that the limitations of the global financial system are letting many countries down.
With no alternative, she added, many developing countries are forced to borrow loans for rebuilding on unfavourable terms, resulting in a “vicious cycle of unsustainable debt”.
She noted that research has revealed that many climate-vulnerable developing countries spend more on external debt payments than on projects to protect people from the impacts of climate change.
She repeated her call for the reform of the global financial system, adding that: “We need to rewire the entire system, with action rooted in the sharpest honesty about where we are, driven by evidence, and flowing through every sector: from finance, energy and trade to health, education, and digitalisation. In all of this, we must work and act together.”
Without meaningful reform, she warned of setbacks in the fulfilment of human rights, basic needs, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Secretary-General further pledged her commitment to the reform process, stating that: “The Commonwealth will not rest until all countries, from the largest to the smallest, have an equal say in decisions affecting them.”
Scotland thanked the Non-Aligned Movement, which shares 44 of its 121 members with the Commonwealth, for its longstanding engagement with the Commonwealth.
She also congratulated President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on his chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement and promised the Commonwealth’s full support during his term.
In addition to expressing gratitude to Azerbaijan, the Non-Aligned Movement’s outgoing chair, the Secretary-General said, “I pay tribute to His Excellency President Aliyev of Azerbaijan for his stewardship of the Non-Aligned Movement over the last four difficult years and commend his government for stepping forward to host the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP29) in Baku later this far…”
Canadian Embassy, NIDCOM Collaborate To Manage Migration
Dr. Jamie Christoff, Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, has emphasised the importance of collaborating with Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) to achieve mutually beneficial migration management outcomes.
The Canadian Envoy made the statement during a visit to NiDCOM Chairman/CEO Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa in Abuja.
He stated, “I understand the impact of large diaspora groups and their contributions to Canada. The Nigerian diaspora is one of our top five migrant groups and a major contributor to Nigeria’s economy. We must assist these Nigerians in migrating on a regular basis.
Christoff went on to say that the two must work together to bridge the gap in Nigerians’ expectations, particularly those who are acting with good intentions, in order to showcase the best of Nigeria.
The envoy stated, “This can be accomplished through regular engagements with Nigerians, knowledge and information sharing on the proper steps to regular migration, and what to expect in Canada.”
According to the Ambassador, he and his team are ready to assist the commission with opportunities, time, and expertise to achieve a better-managed migration.
Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO NiDCOM, welcomed the delegation and expressed her appreciation for the visit, as well as the offer of partnerships, revealing some of the Commission’s ongoing projects with the Nigerian Diaspora in Canada.
She recalled her time in Canada meeting with Nigerian groups and the many positive developments that resulted from the interactions.
The NIDCOM CEO stated, “This year, we will host the Nigeria-Canadian Business Summit in Canada, as well as a Nigeria Day, to bring together this large diaspora group to explore ways to make an impact, both in the host country and back home.”
Dabiri-Erewa reiterated that both countries have numerous opportunities to capitalise on, adding that the Commission, with the assistance of a Councillor in Canada, is working on a Canada Pull Factor as a pilot project to harmonise Nigerian data in Canada with the Diaspora Data Mapping portal.
She also mentioned other strategies implemented by the Commission to engage Nigerians in Diaspora, such as the National Diaspora Policy, the National Diaspora Day Celebration/National Diaspora Merit Award, the Diaspora Investment Trust Fund, the Diaspora Door of Return Festival, and Diaspora Medical Missions, among others.
Don’t Judge Our Performance By Present Political Situation, ECOWAS Insists
Dr. Alieu Touray, President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, has expressed concern that the current political situation in the subregion has overshadowed the regional bloc’s efforts to address the needs of its citizens.
He said this while lamenting the low trade volume among member states, which is around 12%.
Touray also said the trade volume within the larger African continent was not also impressive as it stands under 20%.
Speaking at the maiden briefing on the activities of the sub-regional body on Wednesday in Abuja, Touray said: “There is so much more that ECOWAS is engaged in, because ECOWAS is present in virtually all facets of human development in the region, planning and providing
for the contemporary needs of the community.
“Unfortunately, these laudable strides in the region’s relentless march towards
an economic union have been overshadowed by contemporary political developments.”.
He said with the strategies and policies in place to encourage trading and movement of goods and people within the subregion, it is disheartening that trade amongst member states is abysmally low, noting that: “At the moment, our intra community trade stands around 12%. On the whole in Africa, intra continental trade is under 20% which is extremely low.”
He stated, “When you look at developed countries, countries that are sufficiently integrated, or regions that are sufficiently reintegrated, intra-continental trade alone is around 60 to 70%.
” So we have a long way to go. Very long way to go and this is why it is important that we open our markets for our own produce, our own manufactured items.”
He also emphasised the importance of having a sufficient local content in subregional production.
Russia Praises ECOWAS’ Partial Lifting Of Sanctions On Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso
Russia has praised the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) decision to lift some sanctions imposed on departing members of the bloc, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, as a result of military intervention in civilian governance.
An official statement by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said: “The window for dialogue between the Sahel States Alliance (SSA) and ECOWAS remains open, and the decisions made at the Abuja summit can be seen as a demonstration of political will in the interest of maintaining Community unity.”
The statement said, “On February 24th, an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was held in Abuja, Nigeria, where the most pressing regional issues were discussed. The forum resulted in a series of important decisions, including those addressing the preservation of ECOWAS unity in light of the recent announcement by the leadership of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso of their “immediate” withdrawal from its membership. These countries, amidst the Community’s imposed restrictions, established a new integrative alliance in September 2023, named the “Sahel States Alliance” (SSA), aimed at consolidating efforts in national defense and security.
The forum resulted in a series of important decisions, including those addressing the preservation of ECOWAS unity in light of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso’s recent announcement of their “immediate” withdrawal from the organisation.
“The Russian side emphasizes that the West African states should determine their own ways to resolve the current situation. The window for dialogue between the SSA and ECOWAS remains open, and the decisions made at the Abuja summit can be seen as a demonstration of political will in the interest of maintaining Community unity.
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