2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

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26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
CHOGM 2022
CHOGM 2022 logo.svg
Host country Rwanda
Dates24–25 June 2022
Venue(s)Kigali Convention Centre
CitiesKigali
ChairPaul Kagame, President of Rwanda
Follows2018
PrecedesTBD
Websitewww.chogm2022.rw
Key points
Election of Secretary-General, post-COVID-19 recovery, health, Ukraine[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]

Charles, Prince of Wales represented the Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II, at the summit.

Background[edit]

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[4] held in a country that is not a former British colony or dominion or the United Kingdom itself.

On 8 May 2021, the CHOGM was postponed [5] by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland a second time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[6]

On 31 January 2022, Kagame and Scotland announced that the CHOGM will be held in the week of 20 June 2022,[7] following agreement by all member countries of the Commonwealth.

Themes and agenda[edit]

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.[8]

Ahead of the meeting, ministers of parliament, youth and gender activists, and representatives from civil society and commerce will convene special forums[9] 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.[10]

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".[11]

Secretary-General election[edit]

There was an attempt by the United Kingdom to deny Patricia Scotland a second term as Commonwealth Secretary-General[12] 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.[13] She withdrew her candidacy in February 2021, saying she did not want her candidacy to further divide the Commonwealth.[14]

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.[15]

Tuvalu had proposed its former governor-general, Sir Iakoba Italeli, for the post of secretary general – the first time a Pacific nation has sought the role.[16][17][18][19]

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.[20]

Human Rights in Rwanda[edit]

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative,[21] Human Rights Watch,[22] and Freedom House[23] 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[24][25][26] 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.[27] 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.’’[28] 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”.[29]

Togo and Gabon[edit]

Togo and Gabon joined the Commonwealth, despite never having been under British rule.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ CHOGM 2022 in Rwanda: Key issues - House of Commons Library
  2. ^ "CHOGM: Commonwealth heads of government meeting to hold June 2021". Guardian (Nigeria). 28 September 2020. Archived from the original on 29 November 2020. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  3. ^ "New date announced for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting". Commonwealth.
  4. ^ CHOGM, Rwanda (2022). "CHOGM Rwanda 2022". Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  5. ^ "Commonwealth heads of government talks postponed again due to Covid-19". The Strait Times. Archived from the original on 8 May 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  6. ^ Kagire, Edmund (8 May 2021). "What President Kagame Said About The Postponement Of CHOGM 2021". KT Press. Archived from the original on 8 May 2021. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  7. ^ CHOGM, CHOGM (31 January 2022). "New date announced for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting". The Commonwealth. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
  8. ^ "Our History". The Commonwealth. Commonwealth of Nations. Archived from the original on 13 November 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  9. ^ "CHOGM Forums".
  10. ^ "Rwanda Confirms Hosting Of CHOGM In 2020". East African Business Week. 25 September 2019. Archived from the original on 24 October 2020. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Charles to tell Commonwealth leaders becoming a republic 'is their own decision'". The Independent. 24 June 2022. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  12. ^ "UK fronts Kenya's Amina in Commonwealth top job". The East African. 22 February 2020. Archived from the original on 24 October 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  13. ^ Wintour, Patrick (31 August 2021). "Lady Scotland faces challenge for top Commonwealth role". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  14. ^ "Kenya's Dr Monica Juma quits race for Commonwealth Secretary-General". SABC News. 22 February 2022. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  15. ^ "Commonwealth rift in Caribbean as re-election of Lady Scotland challenged". The Guardian. 13 April 2022. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  16. ^ Needham, Kirsty (13 May 2022). "Tuvalu, sinking in the Pacific, fears becoming a superpower 'pawn'". Reuters.
  17. ^ "Italeli vying for Commonwealth secretary-general's post". Radio New Zealand. 26 April 2022.
  18. ^ "Tuvalu candidate vying for Commonwealth SG role appeals for Pacific support". Radio New Zealand. 27 April 2022.
  19. ^ Crellin, Zac (7 June 2022). "Pacific minnow wants to head Commonwealth". The New Daily.
  20. ^ "Australian-backed candidate fails to topple Commonwealth boss Patricia Scotland". 24 June 2022.
  21. ^ "Rwanda, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative". Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  22. ^ "Human Rights Watch, Rwanda country page". Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  23. ^ "Freedom House, Rwanda country profile". Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  24. ^ "The Commonwealth must call for reforms in Rwanda, African Arguments". 6 May 2021. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  25. ^ "My story proves Rwanda's lack of respect for good governance and human rights, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, The Guardian 1 June 2021". TheGuardian.com. June 2021. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  26. ^ "The dictator who fooled us, Ian Birrell". Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  27. ^ "COMMONWEALTH LEADERS ASKED TO DEMAND THAT KAGAME FREE RUSESABAGINA, "HOTEL RWANDA" HERO, Black Star". Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  28. ^ "Opinion No. 81/2021 concerning Paul Rusesabagina (Rwanda), UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention" (PDF). Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  29. ^ "UN CONFIRMS THAT RWANDAN AUTHORITIES ABDUCTED AND ARE ARBITRARILY DETAINING PAUL RUSESABAGINA, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights". Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  30. ^ Turner, Camilla (22 June 2022). "Togo and Gabon to become newest members of Commonwealth this week". The Telegraph.