Editorial: Speech by Governor General Sir Rodney Williams at Commonwealth Day church service, March 10, 2019

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Reverend Algernon Lewis and the supporting ministers and congregants of the Spring Gardens Moravian Church, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: I am delighted, as is Lady Williams, that you have all joined us at today’s church service to give God thanks forthe Commonwealth of Nations and to unite in prayer for its continued success.
Let us pause to applaud and give God thanks for our service men and women in the armed forces, our police force as well as our national honorees. Thank you all for your selflessness and sacrifices in the interest of the public good.
We welcome all the organisations that are affiliated with or guided by the principles of the Commonwealth — the Legislature, the Commonwealth Games Association, the Girl Guides, the Scouts, and all other service organisations.
The Commonwealth is only as strong as each of its member countries, just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Therefore, the work done in the 53 member countries around the world is extremely important.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Commonwealth, and we are celebrating under the theme “A Connected Commonwealth.” The philosophy speaks to connectivity between governments, institutions and people at many levels.
The ocean that is all around us is the connector of our nations, and is the facilitator of economic activity and the catalyst of international understanding. We take part in friendly sporting rivalry and encourage our young people to participate in sport for development and peace.
As a connected Commonwealth, we collaborate by various means in evercloser accord around the shared values and principles of the Commonwealth charter.
This theme is a positive one, and the planning of the Commonwealth activities for 2019 clearly demonstrates the notion of “connectivity.” The Office of the Governor General, the Ministry of Education, the Legislature, the ex-Servicemen’s Association, the Armed Forces and the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda all collaborated to plan and execute the slate of activities … including this Thanksgiving Service, the Commonwealth Day Parade, A Commonwealth Essay Competition, the launch of the Centenarian’s magazine and the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra’s third edition of “Playing to Inspire.”
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who is head of the Commonwealth, has oversight over this entity that is often described as a ‘family’ of nations and peoples. This is most apparent in the network of societies, institutions, associations, organisations and charities that work towards improving people’s lives.
Lest we forget, the Commonwealth of Nations was created out of the need to ensure that there would never be another occasion where any country, by virtue of its wealth, size, population or military might would colonise or enslave another. It embodies sixteen (16) cores values and principles to include democracy, human rights, peace and security, tolerance, freedom of expression, good governance, gender equality and sustainable development. The Commonwealth Principles were established to recognise the sovereignty of each member nation and to enable each to have a full vote regardless of their size or economic status.
Armed with this historical knowledge, I am confident that all of you gathered here today would agree that any organisation with such a meaningful and people-centred set of principles and values is worthy of our support.
While the Commonwealth cannot be considered as the richest or most powerful of global organisations, its 53-member nations have shown amazing ability to maintain a strong commitment to the common principles for which it stands – and where members cannot abide, their membership may be suspended or terminated. Such is the serious and solid foundation of this alliance.
Antigua and Barbuda can proudly do its part in ensuring that the millions of global citizens of the Commonwealth can continue to look forward to a bright and sustainable future.
Let us all together embrace the theme ‘A Connected Commonwealth.’

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