Commonwealth Parliamentary Association celebrates Commonwealth Day 2023 across its 180 Parliaments and Legislatures
‘Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future’
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) celebrated Commonwealth Day 2023 on Monday 13 March 2023 across the CPA’s nine Regions and around 180 Parliaments and Legislatures.
The theme for Commonwealth Day 2023 was ‘Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future’ which combines the active commitment of the Commonwealth to support the promotion of peace, prosperity and sustainability, especially through climate action, to secure a better future for young people and to improve the lives of all Commonwealth citizens.
Many Commonwealth Parliaments supported the Commonwealth Flag for Peace initiative for Commonwealth Day 2023. The Commonwealth Flag for Peace features a white dove of peace in the bottom corner of the Commonwealth flag, symbolising the shared values of the Commonwealth, including the promotion of peace around the world. Flag-raising ceremonies took place at Parliaments, town halls, schools, colleges and many places across the Commonwealth.
This was the first Commonwealth Day since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, and the first presided over by His Majesty King Charles III as the Head of the Commonwealth at the multi-faith Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London where he joined Members of the Royal Family, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, representatives of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, High Commissioners, dignitaries and over 600 schoolchildren.
As the Head of the Commonwealth, The King gave his first Commonwealth Day message during the service in which he spoke of the diversity of the Commonwealth and its shared political values in strengthening democratic governance.
Download The King's 2023 Commonwealth Day message or view the message at the Westminster Abbey Service below.
Commonwealth Day 2023 also marks the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter which was signed by Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 11 March 2013. The Commonwealth Charter seeks to reflect the shared values of the Commonwealth’s nations and citizens and its anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on its progress and to ask if it meets the diverse needs of the Commonwealth’s citizens.
The Chairperson of the CPA International Executive Committee, Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP said:
“As the Commonwealth marks the 10th anniversary of the Commonwealth Charter, it is a reminder of the magnificent reaffirmation of the basic principles that have underpinned the Commonwealth family since its inception. The foundations of the Commonwealth Charter have proved their worth over these eventful years and are a testament to the lasting relevance and values of the Commonwealth.”
2023 has also been designated the ‘Commonwealth Year of Youth’ and so this Commonwealth Day also focuses on delivering opportunities for young people to connect with the Parliaments, governments and institutions of the Commonwealth.
The CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg said:
“This Commonwealth Day, we celebrate the work of Parliamentarians with young people in their communities. More than 60% of the Commonwealth’s 2.5 billion people are aged under 30. Education and outreach are of vital importance to Commonwealth Parliaments – especially with young people – and the Commonwealth Year of Youth provides an opportunity to engage fully with young people. The CPA does this through the successful Commonwealth Youth Parliament, recently held in Trinidad and Tobago, and we are exploring further activities to support Parliaments in their outreach and engagement with young people, as well as supporting young Members of Parliament.”
Many CPA Branches have used Commonwealth Day as an opportunity to engage with young people through their wider public outreach and have utilised CPA resources like the Commonwealth Day Youth Engagement Handbook and the CPA’s Engagement, Education and Outreach Handbook: Creating Open, Accountable and Transparent Institutions has been developed for the benefit of the CPA’s 180 Parliaments and Legislatures and is designed to be a practical resource to strengthen their public engagement and outreach focus.
The latest issue of The Parliamentarian reports on different examples of youth engagement from Tonga, Sri Lanka and the Isle of Man.
Commonwealth Day is celebrated annually on the second Monday of March.
CPA Branches hosted a wide range of in-person and virtual events for Commonwealth Day 2023. Reports on these events will feature in the next issue of The Parliamentarian.