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The future of the Commonwealth

\r\n \r\nOn Monday I took part in a ceremony to round off a two-day workshop for youth leaders across Sri Lanka.
The event, held at the National Youth Services Council in Maharagama, was run to coincide with Commonwealth Day, which is celebrated across the globe in March each year. During the event participants learned about the Commonwealth and its values as well as its extensive Youth Programme. They also discussed this year’s Commonwealth theme of “opportunity through enterprise”.
Awarding certificates at the closing ceremony of Commonwealth workshop for Youth Leaders in Sri LankaAwarding certificates at the closing ceremony of Commonwealth workshop for Youth Leaders in Sri Lanka
As a country held back by three decades of conflict, this is a theme which resonates in Sri Lanka. For the first time in a generation young people can look forward to a different kind of future which is optimistic, outward looking and full of possibilities. But while the post conflict period is a time of immense opportunity, it is also one of great fragility and risk.
Examples around the world have shown that peace which is hard won can be lost easily unless there is careful regard for the shared Commonwealth values of peace, democracy, development, justice and human rights. This is something recognised by Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report.
Sri Lanka’s youth have most to gain from a sustained peace, and most to lose from a return to conflict. They also have a vital role in helping to achieve reconciliation through showing the courage necessary to address the past as well as the leadership needed to help build an inclusive and sustainable future.
Youth Leaders from across Sri Lanka learning more about the CommonwealthYouth Leaders from across Sri Lanka learning more about the Commonwealth
I know that young people from Sri Lanka’s different communities are coming together to foster better understanding and support the reconciliation process. The UK will continue to support enhanced understanding between communities here and  individuals, from all ethnicities, who form part of the diverse Sri Lankan diaspora in Britain.
The Youth Forum, which will run alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this November, will continue this theme.
Sri Lanka Youth
It will bring together youth leaders from different communities and locations across the island to meet and discuss issues with counterparts from across the Commonwealth.
If young Sri Lankans can put past differences behind them and find common ground for the future, they will be an inspiration to other Commonwealth communities which have had to deal with division, conflict and trauma.
They will also be an inspiration to those national politicians who find it harder to reconcile differences and divisions built up over decades of war.
Her Majesty the Queen signs the Commonwealth CharterHer Majesty the Queen signs the Commonwealth Charter
As host of CHOGM, Sri Lanka has a great opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to Commonwealth values as well as its own reconciliation report. As Her Majesty the Queen said in her Commonwealth message yesterday:
“Opportunity through enterprise is a celebration of our achievements, particularly those that may have seemed challenging, daunting or even impossible”.

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