Today Monday 8th March 2021 is Commonwealth Day. This year Commonwealth Day is centered around the theme ‘delivering a common future’ between all 54 member countries and the wider number of territories of the Commonwealth.
For the second time since 1973, Gibraltar celebrates Commonwealth Day from outside the European Union. It is extremely poignant that this year’s theme is ‘delivering a common future’ as our future will now, together with that of the United Kingdom, seek to develop our relationship with the Commonwealth from this new position in the world.
The Commonwealth family is home to more than 2.4 billion people, consisting of 54 independent and sovereign states with many more territories spanning six continents. It includes countries which have huge, vibrant and advanced economies as well as developing countries. Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar is fully committed to engaging with as many countries as possible in order to enhance our socio-economic, cultural and political ties, not least in this post-Brexit era. This will be a lengthy process which has already commenced.
The policy of the Government has been to develop further our relationship with the Commonwealth and its institutions. In line with this, Gibraltar has now been represented at events such as the Commonwealth Youth Parliament and the Commonwealth Youth Forum for the first time. This allows our young people an opportunity to engage with their counterparts in other countries. Gibraltar has also been represented at the Commonwealth Women’s Forum, People’s Forum and the Business Forum which are timed to coincide with the Heads of Government meeting. This is due to take place in Kigali, Rwanda later this year if the pandemic allows.
The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation and the Commonwealth Local Government Association also see representation from Gibraltar. This participation is relatively new, but there are other areas where Gibraltar has enjoyed a presence for decades, like in the Commonwealth Games and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
More recently, the Government also sends school children to London to visit UK institutions and the different Commonwealth organisations.
In 2019 Gibraltar joined the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) and earlier this year they opened an office locally which will assist the Government with its aim of promoting business links and the role of the private sector across the Commonwealth.
The Minister with responsibility for relations with the Commonwealth, the Deputy Chief Minister, the Hon Dr Joseph Garcia MP, said:
‘Since we took office, the Government has been fully committed to developing our relationship with the Commonwealth. This work has been greatly intensified with our departure from the European Union and the Government has been conducting a detailed exercise to establish which other Commonwealth organisations we can develop links with. The message this Commonwealth Day is that there can be no doubt that the level of engagement between Gibraltar and the Commonwealth is now closer than ever and this will, undoubtedly, be extremely beneficial for Gibraltar in this post-Brexit world that we find ourselves in.’