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Commonwealth: Foreign Relations

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 20th March 2020.

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Photo of Ranil Jayawardena Ranil Jayawardena Conservative, North East Hampshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to promote bilateral relations with the Commonwealth.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The UK marked Commonwealth Day on 9 March. In his statement, the Prime Minister outlined the enduring bond between the Commonwealth network of 54 countries, who are united in its promotion of peace, democracy and human rights. At Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 (CHOGM18) in London, the UK announced £500m of projects and programmes to support delivery of the Commonwealth leaders commitments under the headings of security, prosperity, democracy and sustainability. After hosting CHOGM18, the UK took up the role of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, a position held by the Commonwealth country which has hosted the most recent CHOGM.

The UK has been an active Chair-in-Office, committed to strengthening and renewing the Commonwealth, through its three pillars - the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Member States and Commonwealth organisations and networks. We have driven delivery of Commonwealth leaders commitments, supported the Commonwealth to have a stronger voice as an advocate for multilateral cooperation in the rules-based international system and increased solidarity between members. The UK has also championed reform of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Initiatives have been undertaken in a diverse range of policy areas, from climate change and marine protection, to cyber security, mediation of conflict and promotion of intra-Commonwealth trade. 31 Commonwealth countries are together now tackling marine plastic pollution, whilst over 3,000 women entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth have been supported to internationalise their businesses, and barriers to trade have been reduced.

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