Last Monday the world remembered one of the most terrible events of the late 20th Century. The date marked 20 years since the start of the Rwandan genocide when in just 100 days approximately 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and their Hutu and Twa sympathisers were massacred. It was a massacre where neighbour turned on neighbour and basic weapons including machetes and clubs were used with devastating effect. Although one might suggest that the acts of murder looked primordial the genocide had a variety of very modern and global aspects. Those who planned the genocide were about to lose out from a power-sharing peace treaty and democratic elections. Read more...
News & Blog
The UN Special Envoy on Global Education, Gordon Brown, yesterday launched the Worldwide Emergency Coalition for Education, calling for an end to child marriage, child labour, discrimination against girls and exclusion from education. The Commonwealth includes four of the top ten countries with the highest prevalence of early and forced marriage globally, despite statements from Heads of Government to combat this practice.
Baroness Warsi was scheduled to address guests at the Royal Commonwealth Society's event on 'The Commonwealth and Human Rights' on the 24th of March 2014. Unfortunately she was unable to attend owing to parliamentary business, but was kind enough to allow us to publish the speech that she was going to deliver at the event.
An event on human rights, held at the Foreign Office, and including eminent speakers from across the Commonwealth and with a range of policy backgrounds, is always going to be popular. It is also most certainly going to be controversial and ask some important questions. Last night’s occasion ticked these boxes, sporting a full house from academia, government and civil society who all came with serious questions about the role of the Commonwealth in pushing forward a human rights agenda, its successes, and its failures.
Commonwealth Week saw celebrations across the regions of the Commonwealth, with many RCS branches organising observance ceremonies, receptions and round-table discussions. The week provided the opportunity for all the branches to reflect on the theme for 2014, 'Team Commonwealth'.
In Glasgow we realise that the Games gives us an opportunity to be ambitious. There are 2.3 billion people in the Commonwealth, and 1.2 billion of them are young people. We need to be investing, valuing and believing in them, empowering them.
On Wednesday 12 March we received a special visit to our new offices from Her Majesty The Queen, and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Her Majesty listened to a presentation on our education programmes, met a former Essay Competition winner, and took the time to talk to all of the staff.
Comments by Lord Howell, President of the Royal Commonwealth Society, at the High Commissioners’ Banquet
"2014 is a year in which we re-establish our position as champion of the value of the Commonwealth to the individual, the communities and the wide variety of the nations and states that give this family its enduring strength and to the values, as enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter, that underpin the Association."
Earlier today, Her Majesty The Queen and Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Earl and The Countess of Wessex marked Commonwealth Day in Westminster Abbey.
The Observance launched the 2014 Commonwealth theme ‘Team Commonwealth’.
A reception was hosted by the Bath and District Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society at the Bath Literature Festival. Vanessa Able discussed her brilliant debut travelogue, based on her 10,000 kilometre drive across India in the world’s cheapest car.
“Team Commonwealth” expresses perfectly the real spirit of friendship, unity and of working towards the shared goals and values that are at the heart of the Commonwealth. We are a unique, hugely diverse team - but therein lays our strength.
We are delighted to announce that the internationally celebrated campaigner Malala Yousafzai will be delivering the keynote address at Commonwealth Day Observance in Westminster Abbey this Monday.
We are excited to announce that Laura Mvula will perform at the Commonwealth Day Observance on Monday 10th March.
Left to right: Mr. Lloyd Byrne, President RCS Victoria; Catherine Hronakis (Sr Silver award); Mrs. Inga Peulich, MLA and Parliamentary Secretary for Education in the Coalition Victorian Government; Freya Boltman (Jr Bronze award); Monica Elliott (Sr Bronze award)
Manak Matiyani, a young activist and RCS Networker in India, gives his views on the recent recriminalisation of homosexuality.
On Friday Feb 7th the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia received Miss Elizabeth Waye and her family for Morning High Tea at Government House to recognize Elizabeth's Bronze Award in the 2013 RCS Essay Contest. Attached please find a photo of Miss Waye and His Honour, Brigadier General J.J. Grant.
Opportunity for professional development internationally!
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Applications for 2014-15 academic year are being accepted on a rolling basis until Friday 28th February 2014. Please submit your application as soon as possible.
On 23 January 2014, the Royal Commonwealth Society in Hong Kong held its 31st AGM. The Chairman, Mrs Joan Campbell, reported that 2012 had been a very fruitful year given regular lunch meetings with interesting guest speakers and other events.
Commonwealth leaders united recently in Wellington, New Zealand, for the 22nd Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC). The host and Speaker of New Zealand’s Parliament, David Carter, opened the meeting under the theme of keeping Parliament and politics relevant in a digital age.
We are delighted to announce that Lord Coe, one of Britain's most celebrated middle-distance runners, Executive Chairman of CSM Sport and Entertainment and Chairman of the British Olympic Association, and Baroness Grey-Thompson, one of Britain's greatest paralympic athletes and crossbench peer, will speak at the Commonwealth Day Observance on Monday 10th March.
UNICEF child advocate Abu Bakar is the latest to write his message in the Baton Book.
Tanzanian Abu Bakar is the latest young person to sign the 33Fifty Baton Book. At a reception held by the British High Commissioner H.E. in Dar es Salaam on Saturday 18 January 2014, Abu spoke about the violence he has witnessed against children in his community.
Seychelles’ Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam with award winners of the 2013 Commonwealth Essay Competiton
Recipients of gold, silver and bronze awards for the 2013 Commonwealth Essay Competition were celebrated in Seychelles alongside the arrival of the Queen’s Baton Relay.
Earlier this week, India's Supreme Court chose to reinstate a colonial-era law making homosexuality illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
The Royal Commonwealth Society in Hong Kong had its Christmas drinks party on Tuesday 10th December at the Helena May.
I have had a wonderful awards week in London from going to Buckingham Palace, seeing the Queen in her car and Darleks in the state rooms to being interviewed at the BBC about Selfies!
The RCS held its annual Commonwealth Carol Service at a packed St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square. The service has become well-established as a colourful and vibrant celebration of Christmas in a uniquely Commonwealth setting.
The University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) is currently inviting submissions and registration for their 2014 Caribbean Conference 'Towards a Corruption-Free Caribbean: Ethics,Values, and Morality' which will be held from 19th - 21st March 2014.
Right on the heels of a week spent in London to celebrate her winning the top prize in this year’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, 19-year-old Katherine McIndoe attended a reception on Friday morning in the Grand Hall at Parliament House in Wellington, New Zealand.
The reception was held to welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) team, who recently arrived on New Zealand shores. Along with the Queen’s Baton, the QBR team has also been carrying a Baton Book through every country and territory they pass through. This Baton Book, which is a beautifully illustrated symbol of Commonwealth citizenship, will be delivered to the 100 participants of the 33Fifty programme, which was just launched yesterday at the University of Edinburgh.
Guest speaker Richard Uku, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Commonwealth Secretariat, led a conversation on the policy outcomes of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that took place from 15-17th November in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Last night in the penthouse of New Zealand House, Katherine McIndoe and Tabitha Carr mingled with writers, judges, government officials, educationalists, students, and representatives from across the Commonwealth who all came out to celebrate their achievements. Katherine and Tabitha stood out among the 11,000 plus other young writers for their poignant and imaginative essays, and earlier this year, were announced as the senior and junior winners of the 2013 Commonwealth Essay Competition.
The biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 15 - 17th November 2013.
On Friday 18th October, two students from Coleg Gwent's Crosskeys campus attended a reception at Buckingham Palace on youth, education and the Commonwealth.
Samuel Preece and Danielle Oak, both 18 years old, were nominated to attend after their Commonwealth Essay Competition entry earned them a special mention from this year's judges. To read their entry, click here.
Commonwealth Youth New Zealand, in partnership with the Royal Commonwealth Society Wellington, held a New Zealand student CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) at the New Zealand Parliament from 5th-6th August.
Speaking about the model CHOGM, Chloe Oldfield, Commonwealth Youth NZ Deputy Director, said: "This year's conference was one of the best I've had the pleasure of being involved with. Congratulations to all the delegates who spoke so well on the issues with which they were faced."
To view the New Zealand Youth CHOGM communique, click here.
On the 14th and 15th of October, the Royal Commonwealth Society, Plan UK, and the Commonwealth Secretariat co-hosted a Commonwealth Roundtable on Early and Forced Marriage. The two-day roundtable, held at Marlborough House, brought together senior officials from across the Commonwealth to explore the legal and cultural barriers inhibiting progress and to exchange best practice.
12 year old Tabitha Carr, the Junior Winner of this year's Commonwealth Essay Competition, has been recognised by her school, Blanchelande College, Guernsey, for her outstanding achievement. Tabitha's name has been added to the school's board of honour and Tabitha has now given several performances of her winning entry.
On Wednesday 9th October, the Royal Commonwealth Society in Hong Kong welcomed 30 members to the Hong Kong Club for a talk on 'The dangers for journalism in Hong Kong'. The talk was given by Steve Vines, a founding editor of the Eastern Express, and a regular contributor to the South China Morning Post and Radio Television Hong Kong. In the past, he has also worked in Asia for The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Independent.
Commonwealth Youth New Zealand Deputy Director, Aaron Hape, has been chosen to represent New Zealand at the 6th Commonwealth Youth Parliament in India. The annual conference will be held on 20 - 26 October in the Andhra Pradesh Legislature, Hyderabad.
Katherine McIndoe, the Senior Prize Winner of the 2013 Commonwealth Essay Competition, recently met with HE Vicki Treadell, the British High Commissioner to New Zealand.
Having read Katherine's prize-winning entry, the High Commissioner wished to extend her congratulations and to discuss the inspiration for the entry, which focuses on the 100 million+ lost girls across the globe. To read Katherine's entry, click here.
This year has been a record-breaking year for the Commonwealth Essay Competition. Not only has the competition received in excess of 11,000 entries, but over 70 judges have been involved in the judging process and the standard of entries has been excellent.
Today, the Scottish Government announced £60,000 of investment for "33Fifty: The Commonwealth Youth Leadership Programme", delivered by the Royal Commonwealth Society and Common Purpose.
The four day programme will see 100 18-25 year olds – from Scotland and the Commonwealth – develop their leadership skills, networks and Cultural Intelligence to help them in their studies, careers and civic life. Senior leaders from across the Commonwealth will act as mentors, growing the participants' confidence to lead change and make a difference in their countries.
The Royal Commonwealth Society, in association with the European Commission, brought together policymakers, civil society, diplomats, and businesspeople on the 17th of July for a conference on the EU and the Commonwealth.
Chaired by Peter Kellner, President of YouGov, discussion ranged from the massive potential for increased trade between the EU and Commonwealth countries to the sources of Euroscepticism in the UK. Panellists looked at the differences between Commonwealth and European identity and examined what each organisation could learn from its counterpart.
As announced on 28 February 2013, the Council of the Royal Commonwealth Society has exchanged contracts to dispose of leases on Northumberland Avenue. On Friday 28 June the Commonwealth Club will close to members at 25 Northumberland Avenue. The Society has had its home in Northumberland Avenue since 1922 and naturally there is a great affection for the premises. The Council has not taken these steps lightly, however, the first duty of the Trustees is to secure the viability of the Society.
The Club has hosted many important events and people over the years, from Nelson Mandela addressing his first UK press conference, post release, to Her Majesty The Queen being presented with the Jubilee Time Capsule. It is in this vein that the Society will continue with a full programme of educational and advocacy projects on the horizon for 2014. For example, the Commonwealth Essay Competition has had its busiest year ever in 2013 and we will look forward to continuing this work with our teachers around the Commonwealth in 2014. Our new piece of research, "Commonwealth Compared" has been well received and we are planning our next release for the autumn 2013, along with a new international membership for the Society which is currently undergoing consultation. Our full events programme will continue in London and in cities around the Commonwealth, so too will our advocacy work, including the current campaign to end early and forced marriage in the Commonwealth.
As we look forward, it is with excitement and a strong belief in the values of the Commonwealth that we hope members, Commonwealth colleagues and partners will embark on this journey with us.
For any enquiries, please contact Michael Lake, Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society on 0207 766 9200.
Global figures united on 26th June in a call to help end child marriage across the Commonwealth.
They were speaking at a central London event co-hosted by the Royal Commonwealth Society and global children's charity Plan UK.
On Thursday 23 May 2013, the Royal Commonwealth Society launched their new research, 'Commonwealth Compared 2013: Setting the Scene'.
The Royal Commonwealth Society was recently represented at the 150th Highland Games by the Vancouver Island branch.
Foreign Office Minister, the RT Hon Hugo Swire MP, has attened the Commonwealth Youth Ministers' Meeting to discuss the involvement of young people in current affairs.
The Minister joined Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, and Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, for the opening of the meeting in Port Moresby.
For more information, click here.
The Royal Commonwealth Society was proud to support the launch of the Commonwealth School Enterprise Challenge on Monday 11 March, timed to coincide with the Commonwealth Day celebrations and the launch of the 'Opportunity through Enterprise' theme.
The Commonwealth School Enterprise Challenge is a business competition for young people who want to make a difference in the world. The competition asks school students to start an environmentally friendly enterprise that will solve a problem in their local community.
On Monday 11 March, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, The Rt Hon The Lord Howell of Guilford and Commonwealth High Commissioners joined 2,000 guests at the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey.