2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
|26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting|
|Dates||24–25 June 2022|
|Venue(s)||Kigali Convention Centre|
|Chair||Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda|
The 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, also known as CHOGM 2022, was the 26th Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations. The meeting was originally scheduled for 26–27 June 2020 preceded by various fora between 22–25 June, but was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 31 January 2022, it was announced that the meeting would be held on 24 and 25 June 2022 and the pre-meeting fora held from 20 to 23 June.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is a pivotal agenda-setting and decision-making space for the diverse community of 56 Commonwealth countries. With varying economic statuses and vast oceans between them, the leaders meet every two years to explore how they can pool their resources and innovations to transform joint challenges into exciting opportunities. The 2022 CHOGM is scheduled to be held in Rwanda. It will be the first Commonwealth Summit held in a country that is not a former British colony or dominion or the United Kingdom itself.
On 31 January 2022, Kagame and Scotland announced that the CHOGM will be held in the week of 20 June 2022, following agreement by all member countries of the Commonwealth.
Themes and agenda
The position of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, held by the government leader of the CHOGM host country, was transferred at the summit from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the President of Rwanda, who will hold the post until the 27th CHOGM to be held in Samoa and which was initially scheduled for 2022.
Ahead of the meeting, ministers of parliament, youth and gender activists, and representatives from civil society and commerce will convene special forums to ensure the key concerns and perspectives of women, young people, businesses and non-governmental organisations are considered in leader’s decision-making.
The theme for the meeting was 'Delivering A Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming'. Five sub-themes have been identified for discussion: Governance and Rule of Law, ICT & Innovation, Youth, Environment and Trade.
Leaders discussed ways the contemporary Commonwealth can transform societies, in accordance with Commonwealth Charter values of democracy, multilateralism, sustainable development, and empowerment of women and youth.
In his speech at the opening ceremony, Charles, Prince of Wales said that the decision for Commonwealth realms as to whether to remain a monarchy, or become a republic, were purely a matter for each member country to decide, and suggested that changes can be made "calmly and without rancour".
There was an attempt by the United Kingdom to deny Patricia Scotland a second term as Commonwealth Secretary-General The British government rejected an attempt in 2020 to automatically appoint Scotland to a second term and has reportedly lost confidence in her due to allegations about her leadership style and spending while in office. Kenyan defence minister Monica Juma was nominated in August 2021 for the position of Secretary-General by Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta. She withdrew her candidacy in February 2021, saying she did not want her candidacy to further divide the Commonwealth.
In April 2022, Jamaica nominated its foreign minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, as a candidate for Secretary-General, prompting criticism from other Caribbean states that are backing Lady Scotland's re-election.
Lady Scotland was re-elected to a second term, reportedly defeating Johnson Smith by 27 votes to 24, with Italeli having withdrawn. As her first term had been extended by two years due to the pandemic and the postponement of the 2020 CHOGM, Scotland promised that she will only serve for two more years instead of a full four-year term.
Human Rights in Rwanda
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House have all found that the protection of democracy and human rights in Rwanda have declined since the country joined the Commonwealth in 2009. There have been calls for the Commonwealth to stand up for democracy and human rights in Rwanda at the 2022 CHOGM.
Such calls have included for Commonwealth governments to pressure CHOGM 2022 host Rwanda to free human rights defender Paul Rusesabagina. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found on 18 March 2022 that he had been illegally kidnapped, tortured, and sentenced after an unfair trial. The Working Group stated that: "It is clear on the facts that Mr. Rusesabagina has been targeted by the Government on account of his work as a human rights defender, because of his criticism of the Government on a broad range of human rights issues, including unfair elections and a lack of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the press. He has also challenged cases of arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial killings.’’ The Working Group called on the Government “to release Mr. Rusesabagina immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law’’ and “to ensure a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Rusesabagina and to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”
Rusesabagina’s family welcomed the Working Group’s finding, and were “hopeful that the world will listen to this call by the United Nations and put pressure on Rwanda to immediately free our father and husband”.
Togo and Gabon
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