Commonwealth Conversation Emerging Findings PublishedPosted by ZoeWare - 30/11/09 at 03:11 pm
After an intense few weeks, we are delighted to publish the emerging findings of the Commonwealth Conversation. In this report we say that the Commonwealth must be bold to halt its declining profile, and to do this must focus on three Ps: Principles, Priorities and People. You can download Common What? here, and see the full press release below.
Commonwealth must be bold to halt declining profile
As world leaders gather for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), a new global public consultation shows that the association risks fading into irrelevance unless leaders take bold action.
Conducted to mark the association’s 60th anniversary, The Commonwealth Conversation has so far engaged tens of thousands of people across almost all of its 53 member states via online and offline activities.
The emerging findings of the Conversation are published today by the Royal Commonwealth Society in a report entitled “Common What?”.
The report presents evidence that the Commonwealth has a worryingly low profile amongst the public and many policymakers. Less than one third of people in the Commonwealth could name anything the association does and the majority of those could cite only the Commonwealth Games. Many policymakers who took part in the consultation struggled to identify any area in which the Commonwealth clearly and distinctively adds value. Those working within Commonwealth organisations seem frustrated that the association is being neglected by member governments and lacks an ambitious vision for its future.
Research for the Conversation suggests that the Commonwealth is more often valued by Anglophiles and those who are nostalgic for an imperial past, than those committed to the internationalist values of the association. The report suggests that rebuilding the Commonwealth’s profile is a critical and urgent challenge. It recommends a renewed focus on:
- Principles. There is widespread confusion about what the Commonwealth stands for today. Adherence to the values it purports to uphold is patchy at best. Its principles must be re-articulated in a way that captures public imagination, clearly distinguishes the Commonwealth from other international bodies, and directly informs its work in meaningful ways.
- Priorities. While the Commonwealth does good work in many areas, it is seen as spreading itself too thinly, diluting its impact and identity. There are consistent calls for it to focus on where it can add value in a crowded international marketplace of organisations. The Commonwealth must identify and deploy its unique strengths if it is to thrive in the 21st century.
- People. The Commonwealth’s network of civil society organisations is unparalleled. Yet, many of these bodies urgently need to engage a younger generation or risk dying out. They must become more innovative, more coordinated and better-resourced.
Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, said: “This is a wake up call for the Commonwealth. After 60 years of fantastic work, the Commonwealth has to choose between quietly retiring or boldly revitalising itself for the 21st century. Leaders meeting in Trinidad this week need to do more than issue long communiqués. They need to convince a new generation unfamiliar with the Commonwealth that this association can tackle global challenges in a meaningful way.”
Among thousands of contributions to the Conversation, the following said:
Rt Hon. Malcom Fraser, former Prime Minister of Australia: “If the Commonwealth is to survive as an effective organisation, it should not be shy and retiring.”
Dame Kelly Holmes, President of Commonwealth Games England: “I think the Commonwealth isn’t known that much to the younger generation. We need to talk about the Commonwealth in a more positive light.”
Imran Khan, Pakistani cricketer and politician: “[The Commonwealth] is a historical thing but I don’t know if it is of any direct benefit to Pakistan. It should be more of an effective forum.”
H.E. Kalonzo Musyoka, Vice President of Kenya: “We don’t hear the voice of the Commonwealth loud enough. It is a very well established body but I do feel that it needs a sense of renewal.”
Notes to Editors
Commonwealth Conversation: On 20 July 2009, the RCS launched the ‘Commonwealth Conversation’, the largest-ever public consultation on the future of the Commonwealth. The centrepiece of the Commonwealth Conversation is an open, interactive website to host discussions and invite ideas. (www.thecommonwealthconversation.org) The Conversation has also involved:
- Nationally representative opinion polls in 7 Commonwealth countries with a combined sample of 6,200
- Over 30,000 visits to the website from almost all Commonwealth countries (and 100+ other countries)
- 1,500+ comments via the website, email and post
- Surveys of more than 1,250 people, including key opinion leaders, in over 40 countries
- Almost 70 events in 21 Commonwealth countries across all regions involving some 2,600 people
- Extensive media coverage, including 15 op-ed pieces in leading national newspapers around the Commonwealth
- 8 expert groups on key aspects of the Commonwealth’s work
- Bespoke online focus groups involving young people from around the Commonwealth
For all media enquiries, please contact Joanna Bennett on +1 868 374 4355 and email@example.com.
RCS Headquarters, London: Mr Alex Try, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0)20 7766 9235; 25 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5AP, UK.