The Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mataafa was in London last week to attend the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting.
The meetings coincided with events celebrating Commonwealth Day on March 13th with the theme: ‘Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future’.
Some of the events included the flag raising ceremony hosted by the Speaker of Parliament, Royal Commonwealth Society Service at the Westminster Abbey, and the Commonwealth Day reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by His Majesty King Charles III and the Queen Consort.
The Commonwealth family also celebrated the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter – signed by Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 11 March 2013, and now re-signed by His Majesty King Charles III.
This milestone in the journey of the Commonwealth was marked by the raising of the Flag for Peace where Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa as the incoming chair of the Commonwealth, delivered remarks;
“As we raise the flag of peace, we raise hope for our commonwealth family, for our youth, civil society, small and vulnerable states and we raise hope for a more resilient, sustainable and peaceful common future”
The Commonwealth Flag of Peace represents shared values and principles of the Commonwealth, including co-operation on economic and social development, diversity, respect, friendship and the promotion of peace around the world.
While in London, Honourable Mataafa also held meetings with His Majesty King Charles III at Buckingham Palace; and the Rt Hon. James Cleverly – UK Foreign Secretary to discuss issues of mutual concern and areas to strengthen bilateral relations.
Fiame also met with Commonwealth Secretary General and Deputy Chairman, Lord Swire of the Commonwealth Enterprise & Investment Council.
The discussions throughout the week were critical to the preparations for the hosting of the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Samoa in 2024.
Earlier in the week the Prime Minister was elected the Chair of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) before she proceeded to Chair its 62nd Meeting.
CMAG is made up of a rotating group of foreign ministers from eight countries, drawn from different regions, plus the foreign minister of the Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office. The current CMAG members are Barbados, Belize, Canada, Ghana, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Rwanda (Chair-in-office for the Commonwealth) & Samoa.
Ministers in their deliberations recognised that the fundamental values and principles in the Charter are the pre-requisites for achieving and sustaining peace, and that without peace the full potential of the Charter cannot be achieved.
Prime Minister Fiame was also the key guest speaker at the third session of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Marlborough House Dialogues held 14 March 2023 on the theme “Women’s Leadership in the Commonwealth”.
Hon Fiame shared her journey of challenges and opportunities in being bestowed a paramount chiefly title and the road paved to becoming Samoa’s first female Cabinet Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister also took the opportunity during the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting to brief Ministers on Samoa’s preparations so far, and its approach for CHOGM 2024, set for October. Samoa’s delegation used the opportunity to discuss with some of its partners potential areas of assistance for hosting CHOGM24.
The week long meetings in London ended with the Prime Minister speaking at the Panel Discussion organized by the Australian High Commission to focus on ‘Ambitious Net Zero Targets with Credible Action: Supporting Small Island States.’
This was an important opportunity to continue to push for more ambitious climate action and to consistently accentuate what more needs to be done to address the climate crisis.
Several events of the Commonwealth Day celebrations saw the participation of Samoans such as Mr James Faiumu, a Chevening Scholarship Student from Samoa who was selected to be the Samoa flag-bearer for the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey.
The Samoa Honorary Consul, Mr Lauaki Fereti Tuilagi led a small group of Samoans to sing at Buckingham Palace during the reception hosted by His Majesty King Charles III; while another group performed a Samoan Siva at the Commonwealth Marlborough House Dialogue in celebration of women in leadership.
Ms Brianna Fruean, a former Commonwealth awardee and youth environmental advocate also spoke during the Commonwealth day service on 13 March 2023.
The Honourable Prime Minister was accompanied by Mrs Peseta Noumea Simi, CEO Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, H.E Francella Strickland, High Commissioner of Samoa to the United Kingdom, Ms Fiona Lene-Samoa and Ms Raenynn Manuleleua of the Samoa High Commission in Brussels; and Mr Vani Vai, ADC.