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FLAGS of the Commonwealth: students carry flags of member states of the Commonwealth at the inter-faith service at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown yesterday. (Mike Norville photos)
FOREIGN Minister, Dr. Rudy Insanally has said that this year's Commonwealth Day theme - `Partners in Development' - reflects one of the organisation's key priorities.
In a message to mark the day, observed yesterday, he said the theme is significant given that most of the 54 members of the Commonwealth are developing countries which are grappling with the reality of a hostile global international environment and are facing serious challenges to their development.
"As we are all painfully aware conflicts, both old and new, drug trafficking, trans boundary crime, poverty, deprivation, and disparities in the global economy, are unraveling the fabric of many of the world's societies", the minister said.
"These problems not only undermine our sovereignty and democratic governance but also threaten the environment itself and the possibilities for sustainable development.
Global problems call for global solidarity on the part of least developing and developed nations. Working in partnership is essential if the world is to be a more livable and secure place for all.
To be successful, however, the partnership must be based on a spirit of international cooperation that is respectful of the needs and interests of all, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
The Commonwealth with its unique experience of consensus building can play an important role in developing a model of partnership between nations.
PRIME Minister Sam Hinds, British High Commissioner, Mr. Stephen Hiscock (on the Prime Minister's left) and others at the inter-faith service yesterday.
It is a unique forum in which all member countries, despite their individual culture, size and stage of development, participate as equals in sharing ideas, exchanging knowledge and providing collaboration between states.
The importance of the Commonwealth in playing a greater role in the search for consensus on global issues was reflected in the Coolum Declaration which was adopted at the meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in Australia in March 2002.
The Coolum meeting also emphasised the role of the Commonwealth in development. The Heads of Government perceived the urgent need to assist developing countries with vulnerable economies to cope with the current challenges to their welfare.
They further called for positive partnership through the provision of technical assistance to all of the members of the Commonwealth to enable them to fully participate in the global economic system.
Cognisant of the disparities of the global economy, the Government of Guyana has been led to promote the initiative of a New Global Human Order.
This initiative speaks to the very issue of interdependence and partnership within the international system. It advocates a development process that is premised on equality and social justice and seeks to respond to the special needs of small states, which because of their particular disadvantages now risk marginalisation from the global economy.
The concept of partnership in development should however not be limited to cooperation between states and governments, but should be expanded to bring together the private sector, youth and all of civil society in support of economic and social progress.
The Commonwealth provides ample scope for such partnerships through programmes such as the Commonwealth Youth Programme and the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management.
Our challenge is now to make these programmes more responsive to the development requirements of member states.
On this special day, Guyana pays tribute to the good work being done by the Commonwealth, its Secretariat and all of its agencies to bridge the gap between the developed and developing countries.
Through a more enlightened partnership between states, it may yet be possible to reduce the consequences of their disparity.
We therefore urge member countries to support the efforts of the Commonwealth to create a new dynamic for development."