Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 13, 2017 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs): As the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis joins with the other 51 Commonwealth Member countries across the world to commemorate Commonwealth Day 2017, under the theme “A peace-building Commonwealth”, it gives me great pleasure as the Minister of Foreign Affairs to speak to the importance of our Commonwealth membership at this time.
The organization known as Commonwealth is still quite relevant today, for us particularly as a Small Island Developing State. As we continue to work towards carving out our space in the international community, whilst striving to improve the lives of our citizens through new and diverse opportunities, the bonds we share and the bridges we are able to build with our Commonwealth siblings is increasingly important. The avenues of interdependence, mutual exchange and collective action through which we are able to collaborate continue to unite us.
The Commonwealth, with a population of over 2 billion people, a rich cultural diversity, a strong presence globally, allows us to confidently promote issues of critical global relevance including human rights, sustainable development, climate change, good governance and democracy as we collectively seek resolve to challenges that affect many across the world.
We have been able to deepen our relationship and cooperation with many because of our shared history and membership. We in St. Kitts and Nevis have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to count on numerous Commonwealth Observer Missions in the past when elections were conducted in the country and we are indeed grateful for the advice, and insight as to how we can continue to improve our electoral practices and procedures.
St Kitts Nevis nationals continue to benefit from scholarships and training opportunities not only offered by the Commonwealth, but by individual member countries with whom we share cordial relations. Our very own Trade Minister the Hon. Lindsay Grant, just last week participated in the Inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers meeting where he was able to hold high level meetings with his counterparts as to how best they can expand trade throughout the Commonwealth family.
The Commonwealth is and continues to be a rich reservoir of varied opportunities for our countries.
The theme for this year beckons us to continue building on our solid platform, given our common heritage, as we strive to create an even more peaceful Commonwealth, recognizing that the absence of peace can restrict our countries from developing and growing to their full potential.
In wishing each and every citizen a Happy Commonwealth Day, I wish to remind all of us to take positive action, as we fulfill our roles as peacebuilders within our beautiful country, Commonwealth and the wider world.
2017 Commonwealth Address Audio: