By Luke Geddes | Posted: Thursday August 29, 2019
On the 26th of August, I travelled up to Wellington after being chosen to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the 38th National Student Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Taking place at parliament, we were hosted by Opposition Youth spokesperson Nicola Willis in the Grand Hall; where all of the plenaries took place.
Six plenaries were debated by delegates from around the country on the topics of migration, trade, climate change, values, cyber security and human rights. All these delegates were tasked with developing resolutions in our nation’s best interests. However, contrary to many organisations, the laws of the Commonwealth state that resolutions must be passed by consensus meaning just a majority vote is not enough to place the resolution into effect. This makes it tough to debate in these circumstances, but highlights the power of compromise - ensuring that all parties get something out of the resolution for it to pass. An example of a resolution which had no compromise at the meeting was Pakistan’s bid to fund a glass dome around the country with doors and air holes in order to secure their borders from any unwanted security threats. They stated that because there was sufficient sand in Pakistan to achieve this, it was achievable and realistic. With only three countries (Pakistan, eSwatini and New Zealand) voting in favour of the resolution, it was (relievingly) rejected! Fortunately, the majority of resolutions tackled world issues which were of greater importance than a Pakistani glass dome!
A significant opportunity I had was the mock state dinner in the Beehive banquet hall. Guests included former New Zealand Governor-General and Commonwealth Foundation chairperson Anand Satyanand. He spoke of the significant opportunity the members of the Commonwealth have with some of the largest states and quickest growing economies in the world in it. Wise words to hold fast to in the modern day!
The days in Wellington were extremely beneficial and my knowledge of issues surrounding each Commonwealth country have certainly improved over the hours of preparation and debate which occurred. I gained significant experience in negotiating in order to try to win support from fellow delegates. This opportunity is rare in New Zealand.
The difficulty, the new experiences and the occasion, all make me proud to have represented both Otago Boys’ and Trinidad and Tobago at this prestigious Commonwealth Youth NZ event!