Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Commonwealth Picks Indian Diplomat As New Leader

By Malcolm Webb

Commonwealth Picks Indian Diplomat as New Leader

The British Commonwealth has appointed Indian diplomat Kamalesh Sharmar as its new secretary-general. The appointment was made at the Commonwealth summit currently underway in Uganda.

Sharmar was unanimously elected by the 53 member states of the Commonwealth on the second day of their heads of government meeting in the Ugandan capital Kampala

Sharmar, the Indian High Commissioner to London, will be the organization's first Asian secretary-general. He was chosen over Maltese Foreign Minister Michael Frendo and will take over April 1 from the current secretary-general, New Zealand's Don Mckinnon.

At a news conference following his appointment, Sharmar said the Commonwealth is a global good, and he will take on the position with enthusiasm and confidence. He spoke about the benefits the Commonwealth can bring to its smaller and poorer members, such as the Caribbean Island countries.

"We should try and see where we can further assist aid for trade," said Shamar. "We have talked about, for instance, how can we do trade facilitation, how can we give help so that small states have exportable goods."

"I am very particular in emphasizing on the area of services, because services is now a globally burgeoning industry. I think the 21st century is going to be a much trading century in services, if not more than in goods," he added.

International development consultant Peter Robbins has worked in several Commonwealth countries, advising governments on economic and trade policy. Speaking by phone from London, he said the British Commonwealth lacks the influence and ability it once had to support the development of its member countries.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

"Theoretically the Commonwealth could be a very important institution because it has got very wealthy countries within it, like Britain, and the newly emerging countries like India, as well as poor countries," said Robbins. "Really they could be a very useful self-help group of countries, but in fact their various trade advantages that once were there have really become subservient to the World Trade organization rules."

As well as electing a new leader, Commonwealth leaders Saturday issued a statement on climate change. The new secretary-general had said he expected Commonwealth leaders to agree on a strong statement, but the statement contained only vague language and did not suggest a move towards binding international agreements.


More: Latest World News | Top World News | World Digest | Archives

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines

UN News: Aid Access Is Key Priority

Among the key issues facing diplomats is securing the release of a reported 199 Israeli hostages, seized during the Hamas raid. “History is watching,” says Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. “This war was started by taking those hostages. Of course, there's a history between Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and I'm not denying any of that. But that act alone lit a fire, which can only be put out with the release of those hostages.” More

Save The Children: Four Earthquakes In a Week Leave Thousands Homeless

Families in western Afghanistan are reeling after a fourth earthquake hit Herat Province, crumbling buildings and forcing people to flee once again, with thousands now living in tents exposed to fierce winds and dust storms. The latest 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 30 km outside of Herat on Sunday, shattering communities still reeling from strong and shallow aftershocks. More

UN News: Nowhere To Go In Gaza

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said some 1.1M people would be expected to leave northern Gaza and that such a movement would be “impossible” without devastating humanitarian consequences and appeals for the order to be rescinded. The WHO joined the call for Israel to rescind the relocation order, which amounted to a “death sentence” for many. More

Access Now: Telecom Blackout In Gaza An Attack On Human Rights

By October 10, reports indicated that fixed-line internet, mobile data, SMS, telephone, and TV networks are all seriously compromised. With significant and increasing damage to the electrical grid, orders by the Israeli Ministry of Energy to stop supplying electricity and the last remaining power station now out of fuel, many are no longer able to charge devices that are essential to communicate and access information. More


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.