This is a message from Seychelles President James Michel on the occasion of Commonwealth Day, March 14 2016:
As is customary every year on the second Monday of the month of March, we proudly celebrate Commonwealth Day, which serves to remind us of the principles and values espoused by the Commonwealth family.
An “Inclusive Commonwealth” chosen as the theme for 2016, seeks to recognize the uniqueness of each member state within the Commonwealth family and aims to embrace the richness of diversity across all nation states of our organization.
We are reminded on this auspicious occasion that the Commonwealth of Nations was founded on the principle that the diverse heritage of our member states presents an opportunity to strive for common progress.
When the founders of the Commonwealth of Nations voiced this simple conviction almost seventy years ago, they recognized that this principle will continue to drive renewal within the Commonwealth and will constitute an engine for innovation and development.
Our theme this year is therefore an invitation to more dialogue, more discovery and more cooperation. It is also a strong reminder that in a diverse yet globalized world, uniformity is a huge loss for humanity: our collective aim must be to protect and promote our diversity.
With the Commonwealth’s vocation being one of partnership, working ever more closely with various key stakeholders to unlock the potential of every member of our family, our theme this year is therefore an intrinsic recognition of the importance of every member state of the Commonwealth and that we are all free and equal as sovereign nations.
It also testifies to the need for us to renew all efforts in ensuring that the two billion people within the Commonwealth are provided with the same means to assert themselves as masters of their own destinies.
However, in today’s tumultuous world, the values of tolerance and understanding that we all embrace are under attack by violent extremists seeking to spread terror, hatred and segregation. We must respond to all those who seek to proscribe inclusivity and the plurality of ideas by protecting the wealth of our diversity.
As a country that has always prided itself for being a nation built on diversity, we believe that we have an essential role to play in building this inclusive Commonwealth. This is demonstrated by the relentless investments made on the diplomatic front in ensuring that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides the basis for renewed and stronger action to craft new paths to sustainable and lasting development where no one is left behind.
In this light, we are very proud to welcome the Commonwealth to our shores in May for the Commonwealth Open-Ended Ministerial Working Group Meeting on Small States and the Global Biennial Conference on Small States to continue our work in championing the development agenda of small island developing states, especially when it concerns combating climate change and promoting the blue economy.
Consequently, under the banner of an “Inclusive Commonwealth,” Seychelles is very proud to join the rest of the Commonwealth family in championing issues of fundamental importance and significance to our organization as we strengthen our commitment to sustainable development, human rights, gender equality, rule of law and democracy.
Seychelles is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) .