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The symposium, held under the theme 'International Partners in Development', saw participation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Rudy Insanally; British High Commissioner, Mr. Stephen Hiscock; Director, Human Development, CARICOM, Ms. Jacqulyn Joseph; Director General, Iwokrama Centre for Rainforest Conservation, Dr. Kathryn Monk; members of the diplomatic corps and high school students.
The event, which started after 17:00 hours, included 15-20 minutes presentations by Minister Insanally, Mr. Hiscock, Ms. Joseph and Dr. Monk.
Dubbing the symposium a dialogue for development, Minister Insanally said, "It seems to me that there is still not a great deal of clarity, across the board, on what is meant by the term partnership."
Mr. Insanally reiterated: "We need to give specificity to some of these concepts so that we can understand what we, the partners, are talking about. We cannot understand partnership unless we have a common view, on both sides, of what it’s all about.”
Under the sub heading, 'A general overview from the global perspective', the foreign minister noted: "Like any other human partnership, you have to have a clear set of rights and obligations. The parties must know how they are engaging themselves, what they are committing themselves to and how they are fulfilling that contract."
Underscoring what partnership entails, Mr. Insanally said: "The concept of partnership provides for two important elements, which I think, are crucial for any development agenda. One is predictability and the other is the element of reliability. Because in all the development efforts, what has been missing is that assurance of delivery."
Elaborating further he said, "There are many, many agreements but we have been lacking in the area of implementation. We ought to see partnership in development in that context."
The symposium provided other topics for discussions, such as, 'People in Development: the contribution of Civil Society and Youth; the role of the Commonwealth in the Development process and Sustainable Development: what the Commonwealth and Guyana through Iwokrama, are doing for sustainable development of the rainforest.
Students were given an opportunity to participate in interactive discussions with presenters, at the end of the symposium. From their discussions, students were able to clarify issues which related to the Commonwealth, its 54-member States and Guyana's role as a member State.
Additionally, the role of CARICOM and its emerging Single Market and Economy (CSME) was one of the focal points in the discussions.
In her message to observe Commonwealth Day, Queen Elizabeth II, as Head of the Commonwealth, said: "Today, the Commonwealth is a meeting place for North and South, East and West. It is built on diversity - which is why this year's theme, `Celebrating Diversity’, goes to the heart of the association."
The theme of the Queen's message and each Commonwealth Day message, while different, are usually related.
In his message under the theme 'Partners in Development', the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Mr. Donald Mc Kinnon noted that a key objective of the Commonwealth is to “ensure that the voices of its smaller and more vulnerable members are heard in international forums."
Guyana gained independence in May 1966 and in that year it also became a member State of the Commonwealth of Nations. Guyana subsequently attained Republican status in 1970.
The Commonwealth’s original principles stated that Member States must have the Monarch of the United Kingdom as Head of State. This principle, however, was disbanded when India became a Republic, but still opted to remain a member of the Commonwealth.
To date, 38 of the 54 Member States do not have the Queen as their Head of State, but accept her as Head of the Commonwealth. With the exception of Mozambique, all member countries were ruled, directly or indirectly, by the United Kingdom.