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2016 Febuary March Issue

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THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES encompasses almost a third of the world’s population, bringing together people of many faiths, races, languages and incomes. Its landmass covers 31 million square km (21 per cent of world), and it incorporates US$10 trillion of the world’s GDP (14 per cent of the total). Yet it is an institution that remains a mystery to many. The member list incorporates 53 nations, and its two most recent additions, Mozambique and Rwanda, have no historical ties to the British Empire, and furthermore, there are more nations on the waiting list to join.

So what does this organisation actually do? Does it have an important role to play in today’s geopolitical climate? With the election of the former UK Attorney General as the next Commonwealth Secretary-General, there’s no time like the present to be answering some of these questions. Diplomat met with Baroness Scotland, the first woman to hold the post, who is taking over from Kamalesh Sharma in April. Her aim, she says, is to use these partnerships to harness this huge potential to achieve real change in social conditions,
the environment and women’s rights across the Commonwealth.

In this vein, The Royal Commonwealth Society’s new COO reports from Valletta, where the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) took place in November. One highlight was the society’s successful launch of The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy initiative, which plans to link all Commonwealth countries in a canopy of sustainable forest and indigenous vegetation conservation projects by CHOGM 2018.

The coming years will present a golden opportunity for the modern Common-wealth. 2016 is a year in which Her Majesty celebrates her 90th birthday and her enduring support for the Commonwealth will come to the fore. And the UK will host CHOGM in the first half of 2018. Today, the world is more of a network system where relationships of the kind that the Commonwealth promotes really matter. Perhaps the Commonwealth fits in better with the twenty-first century than the EU? Is this really true?

With the horrific attacks in Paris still fresh in our minds, and the constant debate on how to handle the threat of terrorism within the government, global security continues to be a hot topic in both the headlines and within London’s diplomatic community. Accordingly, Charles Crawford takes a more philosophical look at the use of rules in modern Western society. He says most international problems lend themselves to negotiation of some sort.

Not so with ISIS. Their sheer implacability rules them out as potential negotiating partners. Diplomat reports from a special session to search for solutions on Syria and the refugee crisis in the House of Commons, and publishes a contribution highlighting some practical solutions, from security advisor to London’s diplomatic community David Varney.
As always, Diplomat reviews the Credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting with the Ambassadors of Bahrain, the Netherlands and Ukraine, along with the High Commissioner for Mauritius.

In the lifestyle section, Diplomat experiences the best of British hospitality (for both VIPs and VIKs!) at The Ritz London, and at Shepherd’s of Westminster, a long-time favourite haunt for MPs, journalists, lobbyists and spin-doctors. Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice in our book and arts reviews, including Vogue 100: A Century of Style at The National Portrait Gallery.

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