30/09/2015 | 08:00 UTC

CHOGM Interviews: H.E. Rob Luke

H.E. Rob Luke is the British High Commissioner for Malta.

1. What does the Commonwealth mean to you?


The Commonwealth is a unique network of countries that come together to work on some of the world’s most important challenges.  The Commonwealth reflects the ideal that international affairs are not just the business of governments and diplomats, but the common interest of communities and civil society.  It provides the Commonwealth’s 2.3 billion people with a global identity to complement their own nationality: an identity built on shared values and history, but one that is also forward-looking and modern.

The British Government wants to see the Commonwealth strengthened both as a focus for democratic values and for development.  This means working with our Commonwealth Partners to adapt Commonwealth institutions for the 21st Century so that, as well as effectively championing human rights standards and the rule of law, the Commonwealth is able to take on new challenges such as Sustainable Development, Climate Change and promoting intra-Commonwealth Trade.

It is particularly fitting that this year marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta – a significant document in the development of the UK’s own path towards democracy and the rule of law. The Commonwealth Charter, agreed by all member states in 2012 and signed by HM The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth in 2013, is a modern and no less ambitious document. The Charter means that, for the first time in Commonwealth history, we have a single statement aimed at improving the lives of all our citizens through our shared values.

What makes the Commonwealth such a special organisation is that it is very much a young organisation. More than 60% of the Commonwealth’s population are under the age of 30 and it is these young members of the Commonwealth who will play a vital role in shaping the response to the global issues of the future. 


2. What can Malta bring to the table as a host for CHOGM 2015?


I am confident that Malta will bring a huge amount to the table as host of CHOGM this year. Malta already has a strong track record of organising important events of this nature, having successfully hosted CHOGM in 2005, and there is a lot of goodwill for Malta for having volunteered to host the meeting again.

I have been struck by the leadership and strong commitment to the Commonwealth shown by the Government of Malta and the focus and energy of the CHOGM Taskforce. 

Prime Minister Muscat is playing a key leadership role in seeking to use CHOGM 2015 as an important moment to revitalise the Commonwealth and ensure it strengthens its relevance and value to the 2.3 billion inhabitants of its member states. In that goal he has the UK’s strong support.

CHOGM is an opportunity to showcase Malta to a large international audience and is one that the government has embraced.  As hosts, I know Malta will work hard to build consensus and agreement on a wide range of issues that are relevant to the lives of Commonwealth citizens. I understand that Malta will pay particular attention to the unique challenges facing small island states such as climate change and sustainable development.


3. What are your expectations for CHOGM 2015?


The choice of theme for this year’s Summit - ‘The Commonwealth - Adding Global Value’ – offers the perfect perspective for all those with an interest in the future role of the Commonwealth. CHOGM 2015 is an opportunity to consider how the Commonwealth can best deliver a positive impact to the day-to-day lives of Commonwealth citizens. In short, how it can give a tangible boost to people’s prosperity, security and respect for their human rights. I hope that a successful outcome will, among other things, include a commitment to the Post-2015 Development agenda and help lay the groundwork for a successful negotiation on climate change at Paris in December.

Malta has already identified women’s rights as one area where the Commonwealth can add value. The UK applauds the creation of the Women’s Forum and is pleased to see it run alongside the existing People’s, Youth, and Business Forums.  The Forums reflect the Commonwealth’s continued interest and commitment to its citizens and are increasingly becoming an integral part of the CHOGM process.  I hope that those attending the Forums take the opportunity to set out their own expectations to Heads of Government and take the lead in proposing their own solutions to global challenges.

I also hope that CHOGM 2015 will give the Commonwealth a renewed sense of purpose, and provide an ambitious roadmap for the future.


Photo credits: Lionel Galea 

19/09/2015 | 17:00 UTC

Call for Children to Participate in the CHOGM 2015 Opening Ceremony

A call for children, aged 11 to 16, to participate in the CHOGM Malta 2015 Opening Ceremony, has been issued.

A call for children, aged 11 to 16, to participate in the CHOGM Malta 2015 Opening Ceremony, has been issued. 

Auditions shall be held on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th October 2015 at the Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC), Valletta, between 10:00 and 16:00 on both days. 

Entrance to MCC will be through the Exhibition Hall. Upon arriving at MCC, Children and Guardians will be greeted by the Pre-Audition Team, who will hand out 2 forms as below:


Step 1. 

All applicants will be held in Exhibition Hall and given an application to fill in.  It is important that applications are to be filled in by the Children themselves and not the accompanying chaperones.

Chaperones will be given a separate form to fill in which will include:

  • Contact Details
  • Guardian Details
  • Availability on Specified Dates


Step 2.


The Pre-Audition Team will review the form to ensure that all fields have been filled in.

Fluency in English is a must. If any of the applicants enter “Not Fluent in English” applicants will be informed that they will be called for if needed. 

The Pre-Audition Team will number the applications and write the application number on both forms. The Team will also take 2 photographs of applicant, one full body, the other full face close up. Photographs will be saved according to the application number. 

The application number will determine the priority to enter for the audition, starting from 001 – ascending. 

Auditions will be held one at a time and applicants will need to proceed into the audition room unaccompanied. 

During the Audition applicants will be assessed on:

  • Fluency in English and other Languages
  • Assertiveness


All auditions will be held in English and will be held with Mr. Ray Calleja (Artistic Director), Ms. Alison White (Head Choreographer) and Ms. MaryGrace Pisani (Costume Designer). 

A total of 150 children will be chosen from the total applicants.

The chosen applicants will be contacted and given a rehearsal schedule for the duties assigned during the Opening Ceremony of CHOGM Malta 2015

18/09/2015 | 10:00 UTC

Commonwealth Business Forum launches in Naples

On 15 September 2015, H.E. Ambassador Vanessa Frazier, accompanied by Ms. Philo Meli from CHOGM Malta 2015 Taskforce and Consul General Mr. Ivan Vassallo were in Naples on a one day visit to launch the Commonwealth Business Forum due to be held in Malta between the 24-26 November 2015.

Over 100 businessmen from the Campania region and the South of Italy were present for the event which was coordinated by the organisation Imprese del Sud.  Ambassador Frazier explained that the Commonwealth Business Forum could be of particular interest to Italian companies who are venturing beyond their traditional markets. Ambassador delivered a presentation on the various themes, participants and the modalities of registration to the Commonwealth Business Forum.

The programme also started with a visit to the President of the Campania Region, Vincenzo de Luca. The discussion focused on the opportunities of cooperation between Malta and the Campania in relation to business opportunities related to the upcoming CHOGM Malta 2015 and Business Forum. Opportunities for cooperation were also outlined with President De Luca in relation to the field of education, industry and tourism.


02/09/2015 | 15:44 UTC

August Rush

It’s time to wrap up another month, the hottest one this season, before summer starts to slowly come to an end. 

It’s been a busy month for the CHOGM Communications team, with their social media plan being put into full swing.  All the big platforms are being used to pass on details of the upcoming summit and forums to Commonwealth citizens and encourage engagement on all fronts. 


We also had the pleasure of interviewing H.E. Norman Hamilton, the Malta High Commissioner for the United Kingdom who spoke to us on his impressions about the Commonwealth and Malta’s role in the upcoming CHOGM. 


Our volunteer section this month features Johanna George, a Maltese woman with British roots. Johanna speaks of being pleased to have the opportunity to help with this year’s CHOGM and honouring both countries. She also speaks of her admiration for the Queen who is, of course, the head of the Commonwealth. We are delighted to have Johanna on board.


We’re happy to report a steady stream of applications for accreditation. If you too plan on attending any of the forums, do make sure you Get Accredited Now. It will be impossible to access any of the official CHOGM events and venues without accreditation. Approved accreditation is also vital for those needing visas. 


CHOGM 2015 is less than 3 months away. We can’t wait to welcome you all.


02/09/2015 | 14:27 UTC

The Social Summit

Social media plays an integral part in our technology-centred society and its power to reach out to the masses is indisputable. With this in mind, it was a must for CHOGM Malta 2015 to use this tool to engage Commonwealth citizens.

The more popular social media platforms are being exploited to the full, and posts keep the public informed about the CHOGM to be held this November as well as the Commonwealth at large. 

Various hash tags are used, starting with #MaltaMondays.

Although Malta is one of the smallest member states of the Commonwealth, it has been given the honour of hosting this prestigious event for a second time. Aimed at showcasing the island’s rich culture and spectacular views, #MaltaMondays are dedicated to the host country. These posts show the best of Malta and give the international community a taste of what to expect when attending this year’s CHOGM. 

Malta is only one of 53 member countries forming part of the Commonwealth. Each country, with its diverse culture and history, plays a vital role. so every member’s cultural diversity and splendour is featured in #WorldWednesdays. 

For those who love history, we suggest joining our social media on the #TBT bandwagon for a bit of CHOGM and Commonwealth nostalgia on Thursdays. 

Complementing the above, daily updates on the four forums and parallel events are posted on our profiles. 

Social media provides everyone with the opportunity to have their say and influence the global agenda. In fact, this was the reasoning behind the Youth Forum’s #WhatNext campaign, giving young people the power to shape the forum’s agenda. More initiatives along these lines are in the pipeline. 

Being a widely-used medium to express opinions and generate interest, our social media strategy blends in perfectly with the CHOGM’s main theme of ‘Adding Global Value’. Readers are encouraged to visit our profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to stay informed and make their voices heard. 


02/09/2015 | 13:48 UTC

CHOGM Interviews: H.E. Norman Hamilton

H.E. Norman Hamilton is the Malta High Commissioner for the United Kingdom.

What does the Commonwealth mean to you? 


I think it is only natural for London-based High Commissioners to recognise the true value and amazing potential of the Commonwealth as an organisation, a force for good and a convening juggernaut. Bringing together more than two billion people from 53 countries spread across every continent and ocean, I know through direct personal experience that the Commonwealth is an organisation like no other. I have the joy and privilege of regularly sitting at the same table as counterparts from Australia and Cyprus, India and Lesotho, Nigeria and Saint Lucia and Tonga and so many others. This is perhaps something which not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to say but I know that it strikes a chord with anyone who has ever attended a Commonwealth meeting because the organisation’s special strengths are its diversity and the fact that every member, no matter its size, has equal say and standing. Having seen the Commonwealth’s often quiet and sometimes underappreciated work in the fields of democracy and development, I have a great appreciation for the unique role it continues to play both on the international plane as well as at the grassroots level. In a nutshell, I consider the Commonwealth to be a natural family for Malta because despite the wonderful diversity of its 53 members, it brings together countries bound together by shared language, history and culture as well as common values and principles.


What can Malta bring to the table as a host for CHOGM 2015?  


First and foremost, Malta brings to the table the lessons learned ten years ago when it first hosted the CHOGM with great success. I am sure that this time round will be no different because we have in our Prime Minister a leader with a very clear vision of what the Commonwealth should look like in the 21st century. This is an attribute which will serve Malta well in the two years during which the Prime Minister will be the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office. Beyond the qualities of the Prime Minister himself as a host are of course Malta’s own characteristics which make it an ideal venue for such important Summits and for Commonwealth meetings in particular. Our country’s geographic position has lent itself to it being at the crossroads of civilisations and, like the Commonwealth, it is no stranger to bringing together disparate sides with the aim of working towards a common outcome. Despite its size, Malta plays an active role in Commonwealth affairs and over the years it has brought a wealth of ideas to enrich this institution.


What are your expectations for CHOGM 2015?


Having been involved with the preparations for CHOGM 2015 since the very beginning, I have very high hopes for this landmark event as we approach November. This year’s CHOGM was almost preordained to be a milestone because it will help the Commonwealth set its agenda for the years to come and because of the fact that the Heads shall select a new Secretary-General while in Malta. It was also almost destined to be a milestone just because of its timing – the importance of this year, 2015, for the international community cannot be overstated, particularly when it comes to development. This year is full of major international conferences, summits and special sessions on issues of worldwide concern, such as the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the Special Executive Session on Climate Change. The high-level attendance expected as well as the introduction of a brand new Commonwealth Women’s Forum sitting alongside the customary associated events and parallel forums are also significant developments which bode well for a resounding Malta CHOGM. I expect that all of the important subjects which are set to be discussed by the Heads will bear out the theme chosen for CHOGM 2015 - “The Commonwealth – Adding Global Value