As Commonwealth leaders meet for the first time in four years at this week’s Heads of Government Meeting, discussions regarding post-pandemic recovery, the elimination of Malaria, mental health, climate change, and much more are already underway.
By Khaila Gentle
KIGALI, Rwanda, Thurs. June 23, 2022
While high-level ministerial meetings are not set to begin until Friday, June 24, several forums and side events are already underway at this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2022 (CHOGM 2022). Several issues are expected to be tackled at the summit, including climate change, poverty, food insecurity, and even the current pandemic.
The Heads of Government Meeting, which occurs once every two years, was to have taken place in 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was cancelled twice. On Thursday, Foreign Ministers met to discuss post-pandemic recovery.
There, World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the ministers, noting that, while much progress has been made in the fight against COVID-19, the pandemic is not yet over.
“…although we have made great progress and have many reasons for optimism, the perception that the pandemic is over is understandable but misguided. Ending the acute phase of the pandemic must remain our collective priority,” said the Director-General.
“One of the greatest risks now is that we move on to the next crisis—and there are many demanding our attention—and forget the lessons the pandemic has taught us—lessons that have come at a great price,” he added.
The WHO Director-General further noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that global health security is not something that can be left to voluntary mechanisms or goodwill.
Dr. Ghebreyesus also spoke at numerous other forums, including one on vaccine equity for Africa and another on mental health.
The majority of the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers’ discussions focused on the theme of this year’s summit—Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming.
Meanwhile, several heads of state met to reaffirm their commitment to ending malaria by 2030 at the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) by signing the Kigali Declaration on NTDs.
According to Al Jazeera, this year’s meeting will also see Commonwealth leaders vote on whether the current Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, will be reappointed for a second term or replaced by Jamaican Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith. Reports are that Britain, India, and Belize are all in support of appointing the Jamaican minister as the new Secretary-General.
The official opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2022 will be held on Friday, June 24, with main high-level meetings occurring from Friday to Saturday, June 25.