Commonwealth leaders hold virtual meeting on COVID-19 crisis

Saturday, 27 June 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Leaders and representatives from across the Commonwealth on Wednesday held a virtual meeting to share solutions and ways of working that can help to combat the impacts of COVID-19. 

Many member countries are facing unprecedented challenges due to the global health emergency and its economic and social ramifications. These issues combined with the long-term threat of climate change and the ongoing cyclone, and impending hurricane season, means that COVID-19 is seen as a substantial ‘tipping point’ threat that has the potential to push member states into a period of significant crisis if swift and coordinated action is not taken. 

The meeting was held after the Commonwealth Secretariat received significant support for such a meeting from a majority of Commonwealth member states.

The meeting saw participants from across the Commonwealth explore and exchange solutions on issues as diverse as: 

• Technological tools that have helped in combating COVID-19 and the role of good governance in supporting the fight against the disease. 

• Accelerating cooperation on trade and finance so as to mitigate against the economic impact of COVID-19. 

• Urgent action to tackle the acute and long-term impacts of climate change. 

• And for the Commonwealth to take the lead in building a “vision for a freer more equal kinder and collaborative world.” 

• The meeting also observed that when the Commonwealth family acts together that “our joint action changes the lives our people forever”. 

The meeting noted that multilateral approaches are required to address all of these challenges and especially to support more vulnerable members such as the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, in light of the specific challenges they face.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and sovereign countries. It spans the globe, including both advanced economies and developing countries, in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe and the Pacific. Its combined population is 2.4 billion, of which more than 60% is aged under 30.

The Commonwealth Secretariat supports member countries to build democratic and inclusive institutions, strengthen governance and promote justice and human rights. Our work helps to grow economies and boost trade, deliver national resilience, empower young people, and address threats such as climate change, debt and inequality.

The whole Commonwealth has been affected by COVID-19. As of 24 June, there are more than 1.37 million confirmed cases in the Commonwealth. Seven member countries are among the world’s 12 nations that have not reported any cases.

The Commonwealth has developed a COVID-19 Tracker that shows daily cases in member countries. The tool is designed to monitor and understand how the virus is impairing Commonwealth countries and which countries will need the most help. The tracker identifies risks, gaps, and key areas where the Commonwealth can add value in supporting the fight against COVID-19.

Health ministers from across the Commonwealth virtually met on 14 May for their annual summit and agreed to coordinate their response in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in their statement.