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South African President Jacob Zuma concludes his visit to Perth, Australia for CHOGM Meeting

The Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting under the theme “Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience” was held in Perth, Western Australia from Friday, 28 October 2011 to Sunday, 30 October 2011. The traditional “Retreat” of the Heads of State or Government took place at the State Reception Centre, Kings Park from 28 to 30 October 2011. The Heads of Government segment was preceded by a Pre-CHOGM meeting of Foreign Ministers from 26-27 October 2011 and a meeting of senior officials from 24-25 October 2011.

As incoming President of COP17/CMP&, CHOGM 2011 presented opportunities and platforms for South Africa to interact on the issue of climate change with many delegations emphasising that the Durban Conference must produce a credible, fair, equitable and balanced outcome. President Jacob Zuma stressed in bilateral meetings that a positive outcome from a COP Conference hosted in Africa is especially important for the Continent that is vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

President Zuma joined fellow Heads of Government in considering issues of Commonwealth reform, both in terms of the review of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which is viewed as the custodian of the organization’s democratic principles and values, as well as the recommendations by an Eminent Persons Group aimed at sharpening the Commonwealth's impact and raising its profile.  Other issues considered by the CHOGM included the Commonwealth's interface with the G20, food security, climate change, youth, gender and sustainable development - all within the context of the conference theme "Building a National Resilience, Building Global Resilience".  Heads of Government also acknowledged the role of Her Majesty the Queen in the Commonwealth and agreed to present her with an appropriate tribute for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Australia, as host of CHOGM 2011, focused on food security; climate change; small developing states; mining for development; polio eradication; sustainable development; as well as strengthening the Commonwealth institutionally, including through promoting Commonwealth values such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights. South Africa supported all these key initiatives.  President Zuma had the opportunity to participate in the CHOGM Retreat in frank discussions with his counterparts on these and other Commonwealth issues.  He also briefed Commonwealth governments on the role of the United Nations Global Sustainability Panel.

President Zuma used the opportunity of this multilateral gathering to conduct some bilateral engagements with various Commonwealth countries including Malaysia, Nigeria, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya and Singapore.

South Africa is one of five Commonwealth member states participating in the G20 grouping and Commonwealth member states and together with the other four, Australia, India, Canada and the UK, was requested to highlight the plight of developing countries, especially small developing states, at the next meeting of the G20 in Cannes.

As agreed by Heads of Government, member states were required to consider the recommendations made by the Eminent Persons Group. Heads accepted the vast majority of the recommendations and decided to defer final decisions on a number of recommendations that would require further intergovernmental consultations or has financial implications.  Some recommendations that are of purely procedural nature will not be considered further.

Heads of Government acknowledged the need to urgently address the question of food security in a separate declaration.  Other issues of concern have been addressed in a short and focused CHOGM communiqué. The communiqué focuses on the reform, values and principles,  revitalizing development priorities, cooperation to secure global economic recovery, improving gender equality, promoting the voice and role of youth, committing to sustainable growth and resilience for Commonwealth countries, combating people smuggling and human trafficking, and a number country specific issues.

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February 2017 Edition

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