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Namibian President commends Secretary-General for restoring relevance to the Commonwealth

31 August 2017

The President of Namibia has praised Secretary-General Patricia Scotland for restoring relevance to the Commonwealth and enabling it to better address the challenges of today.

In a meeting at State House in Windhoek, Hage Geingob said a reinvigorated Secretariat would allow the organisation to continue its role of serving its 52 member countries.

President Geingob expressed his pleasure that the Secretary-General kept her word to visit Namibia.  He also commended the range of innovative ideas that had been developed by the Commonwealth over the last 12 months.

He said the example set by the Secretariat of making the organisation more streamlined in the face of reduced funding was a model for Commonwealth countries such as his own.   His government is also keen to reduce expenditures.

Having raised the issue of re-profiling the organisation during a meeting with the Secretary-General last year, President Geingob was also pleased that the Secretariat has launched the Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform (OCCJR), which will provide clear, fair and effective legal frameworks for member countries. Secretary-General Scotland said the OCCJR was part of her vision to “create the highest standards for good ethical practice and integrity, which will encourage more investment into key sectors of the economy.”

President Geingob also raised a number of issues, such as securing the balance of trade between countries to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes.

Other areas for which the Commonwealth could provide support, he noted, include economic diversification, inclusive growth, youth employment and child survival. The Secretary-General responded that the Secretariat hoped to address these issues through “common answers and solutions”.

The Secretary-General praised President Geingob’s government for its leading role in addressing climate change, in particular as one of the first countries to sign the Paris Agreement.  On the issue of climate change, the Secretary-General talked about the Secretariat’s new regenerative model of development. This model has the potential to help reverse climate change through the promotion of an integrated approach to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals, through the use of new disruptive technologies, such as carbon-capturing concrete in new buildings, and 5G technology. In addition, it aims to create more circular economies that will reduce the level of waste and produce renewable forms of energy.

The President said he was fully committed to gender equality, demonstrated by the balance in his cabinet, which includes women as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. The President also recognised the challenges around gender-based violence, saying it would be robustly dealt with in Namibia.  He accepted the Secretary-General’s invitation to become a Commonwealth champion on this issue.

During the course of the meeting the Secretary-General presented a copy of the Commonwealth Charter to President Geingob, who said he was very supportive of the principles set out in the document. The President also underscored his support for transparency and freedom of the press.

The meeting was attended by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, the Minister for Higher Education and other senior government officials.

President Geingob concluded by thanking the Secretary-General for the constructive dialogue, and said, “Today we have talked, not about a brain drain, but about brain gain, so well done.”

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