Heads of Missions and other diplomats from the Commonwealth family of over 40 countries attended the event, including Lord Vaea, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Tonga and the Lynne Featherstone, the Minster for Foreign and International Development of the United Kingdom. Former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans of Australia was also present. A number of senior UN officials, including thePresident of the General Assembly, John Ashe, USG Peacekeeping Operations, USG Disarmament Affairs and the USG Small Islands and Land Locked Countries also joined the celebrations.
Ambassador Kohona also noted that many of the poor of the world lived in Commonwealth countries and that the Commonwealth had a special responsibility for addressing these issues. He invited the countries represented to attend the World Conference on Youth 2014 in Sri Lanka this May.
The Permanent Representative of Malta, Christopher Grima, during his address said that “With this year’s theme “team commonwealth”, we need to consolidate our natural strengths and deepen our ties and identity to promote our values wherever and whenever we can.”
The message from Her Majesty the Queen was read out by Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom. In her message she said that “The understanding that we belong together, and are able, through teamwork, to achieve far more than we could do alone has always been at the heart of our approach. For all of us this is now captured in the Commonwealth Charter which sets out the values and principles which guide and motivate us”.
The event concluded after an evening of Sri Lankan finger food and wine provided by Malta.