Kigali, 24 June 2022
It is a pleasure and an honour to welcome you to the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the sixth in Africa, and the first since our world was turned upside down by a devastating pandemic.
The journey here has been long. But it was easier, because of the support we have rendered to one another. I thank the Chair-in Office, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and the Secretary-General, for guiding our organisation through unprecedented times.
We are very honoured today to welcome Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. We join together to pay tribute to Her Majesty the Queen, the Head of the Commonwealth, and its most devoted champion. Over her seventy years of service, the Commonwealth has grown, both in number, and in the scope of its ambition. The fact of holding this meeting in Rwanda, a new member with no historical connection to the British Empire, expresses our choice to continue re imagining the Commonwealth, for a changing world.
The Commonwealth does not replace other institutions; it adds to them. That is why we always have important special guests with us. This year, let me recognise, in particular, His Highness the Emir of Qatar, and I thank him for being here with us. The Commonwealth we need, is on the frontlines of global challenges, not on the periphery, watching events unfold. Our special strength is to bring issues into focus, that might otherwise be overlooked. For instance, the way that climate change puts the very existence of small island and developing states, into jeopardy.
Or the possibility to transcend size and geography, by leveraging new technologies, to create highquality, global jobs for our youth, right at home. We are united by a shared language, whether
English is our first, second, third, or even fourth one. But what really defines us, are the values enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter, and a commitment to good governance, the rule of law, and the protection of rights. That is why we shall always remain open to new voices, and new members.
And wherever we might fall short, we find solutions through consensus and dialogue; we build each other up; and we move forward, together. In closing, I also want to welcome you to Rwanda. Ours is a country that was torn apart by genocide and division, just a generation ago. Today, we are a nation transformed, in heart, mind, and body. Three-quarters of our population are young people, with no memory of those events.
Everything we do, including joining the Commonwealth in 2009, is aimed at making sure that our people are connected, included, and forward-looking. We are delighted that, through CHOGM, you have the opportunity to get to know us, and we aim to repay that trust, with many years of continued friendship.
I thank you.