The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) concluded in London, United Kingdom on April 20, 2018.
The two-day summit, formally inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II, saw in attendance 53 heads of Government including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The event will be held in London and Windsor.
This is the first time in a decade that an Indian Prime Minister is attending the event, which is held every two years, having skipped the Group summits in Perth, Colombo and Malta since 2009.
The main aim of the meeting was to build on the strengths of the Commonwealth nations, address shared global challenges including environmental ones and agree on actions on how to create a better future for all.
The theme of the summit was 'Towards a Common Future'.
The four main goals set for the summit included:
Prosperity: Boosting intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.
Security: Increasing cooperation across security challenges including global terrorism, organised crime and cyber attacks.
Fairness: Promoting democracy, fundamental freedoms and good governance across the Commonwealth.
Sustainability: Building the resilience of small and vulnerable states to deal with the effects of climate change and other global crises.
This is the first CHOGM meeting following UK’s decision to withdraw from the European Union.
Hence, Britain is aiming to strengthen its economic and trade ties with the commonwealth nations and play a greater role in the group.
Landmark agreement on cybersecurity
• In a landmark declaration at the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit, the leaders of the 53 participating nations came together and unanimously agreed to work closely to evaluate and strengthen their cybersecurity frameworks and response mechanisms.
• They also agreed to take action on cybersecurity by 2020.
• According to a release issued following the meet, the declaration was the world's largest and most geographically diverse inter-governmental commitment on cybersecurity cooperation.
• This was followed by an announcement by the United Kingdom, which pledged up to 15 million pounds to help the Commonwealth nations strengthen their cybersecurity capabilities.
• The move is aimed at tackling criminal groups and hostile state actors who pose a global threat to security.
Besides, the leaders of the 53 Commonwealth nations expressed their strong support for the multilateral trading system and adopted a six-point connectivity agenda to boost trade and investment links. They also agreed to cooperate to protect the oceans from the effects of climate change, pollution and over-fishing.
On the sidelines of the Executive sessions, Prime Minister Modi held a series of bilateral meetings with several heads of state including Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Seychelles President Danny Faure.
Modi’s bilateral talks
• PM Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina had a productive exchange of views on various issues of bilateral interest including development cooperation.
• Modi also met Seychelles President Faure and discussed cooperation in areas of trade and investment and other bilateral issues.
• The talks between the two heads was especially significant, as Seychelles recently ordered an inquiry into the leak of a highly classified agreement signed with India to develop infrastructure on Assumption Island, which lies southwest of the mainland of Mahe.
• Modi also met his Mauritius counterpart Pravind Kumar Jugnauth and talked about cooperation in trade and investment, maritime cooperation and people-to-people ties.
• Modi also had interactions with other leaders including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Gambian President Adama Barrow, Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Rick Houenipwela on the sidelines of the summit.
• He also met and interacted with President of Kiribati Taneti Maamau, Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda Gaston Browne and Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago Keith C Rowley.
• Some of the other world leaders expected to have one-on-one deliberations with Modi during the summit include South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Michael Holness.
About Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018
• It is a major summit of the Commonwealth of Nations, which were formally ruled by Britain during the 19th and 20th centuries.
• Membership of the Commonwealth is now voluntary, and based on a shared commitment to values including individual liberty, equal rights and trade.
• The Group comprises 53 members nations spread across six continents with a total population of about 2.4 billion people, which is about one third of the total global population.
• Three nations - Mozambique, Rwanda and Cameroon - joined the group despite never having been ruled by Britain.
• The ongoing summit is the 25th meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth of Nations.
• The summit was originally supposed to be hosted by Vanuatu at the end of 2017. However, it was moved to the United Kingdom as Vanuatu was no longer able to host the event due to the damage done by Cyclone Pam to the island nation's infrastructure.
• The 2018 edition is widely regarded to be the Queen’s last Heads of Government meeting, as she no longer travels long distances.
• During the summit, the Queen relayed her wish that her son, Prince Charles, should carry on her work as leader of the Commonwealth. The statement came ahead of a critical decision on who shall serve as the head of the group.
• The group has been headed by the Queen since 1952, when there were just eight nations. Currently, the Commonwealth group comprises 53 nations and a total of 2.4 billion people.
• The summit takes place every two years in different Commonwealth countries. The next biannual summit will take place in Malaysia in 2020.