For Media

Hotels for Press
Accommodation levels in Rio de Janeiro are anticipated to be at full occupancy during the conference. While it is not the responsibility of the United Nations to procure accommodation for the media, it should be noted that the Brazilian national organizing committee for Rio+20 has committed to blocking a minimum of 500 hotel rooms in Rio de Janeiro for media covering the conference. Costs must be covered by the media. For more details, visit: http://www.rio20.gov.br For information regarding room availability please contact: Terramar Travel Agency

Emails: reservas2@terramar.tur.br or reservas4@terramar.tur.br or reservas8@terramar.tur.br

Tel: (+55+21) 35120067 or (+55+11) 30142042 or (+55+19) 35145600

Media representatives must present their approval letter and copy rio20.hoteis@itamaraty.gov.br when requesting their accommodations.

Information

Capitalise on commonwealth soft power network
The Commonwealth is as unique an international organisation as the countries that form its membership. It is representative: 54 member states, from six continents, accounting for one-third of the world's population -- two billion people.

It is diverse. It includes developed, emerging and developing economies, encompasses the world's major faiths and ranges from some of the most populous countries to some of the tiniest; from some of the wealthiest to some of the most vulnerable. It is vibrant. The economies that make up the Commonwealth have grown by an average of 9.5 per cent faster over the past 10 years than the global economy.

More than half the population of the Commonwealth is under 25, and this looming demographic dividend will drive even faster rates of future growth.
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Most exceptionally what unites the Commonwealth is its belief in a set of common values for how countries and peoples should be governed.

These values of democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law are the central organising principles of the Commonwealth. This set of values distinguishes it from nearly any other regional or global grouping, where shared geography or common interests usually determine membership, and where matters of governance are usually considered to be internal matters alone.

These characteristics of the Commonwealth -- its diversity, its representativeness, its moral authority -- give it a unique legitimacy. When it speaks with one voice, it carries real weight.

We saw this in the leading role the Commonwealth played in supporting decolonisation in the 1960s, helping broker a solution for Rhodesian independence, and ending apartheid in South Africa.

We see this in our own region, where the Commonwealth's suspension of Fiji following the coup there has helped maintain the strength of international opinion calling for free elections and a return to democracy in Fiji.

And as the world changes, I believe there is a continued role for a strong Commonwealth.

We are in an era where the global power order is changing. Developing and emerging countries are rightly demanding and assuming a greater say in the conduct of global affairs. Whole continents and regions previously excluded from the decision-making councils of the world are now seeking and gaining seats at the table. In such an age, we will need to make more of organisations such as the Commonwealth, that are broadly representative, legitimate and sufficiently informal if we are to grapple with the challenges facing us as a globe.

The Commonwealth, too, has an opportunity by virtue of its strengths to carve out a new role for itself in the world. We are realistic about what it can do. It is not an alliance or a trading area. It is not a negotiating bloc. Its membership is diverse. It operates by consensus. But it is a soft power network that represents the realities of our changing world and is underused. We intend to seize this opportunity in Perth.

We will capitalise on the Commonwealth's uniquely representative nature. We want to use Perth as a platform for the Commonwealth to forge consensus and project a unified voice on some of the most important issues facing the world today.

At Perth we expect leaders to tackle issues such as climate change, food security, the global economy, sustainable development, the eradication of disease, piracy, the world trading system, natural resource management and the challenges faced by small and vulnerable states.

We will ensure the Commonwealth injects its views on these issues into other global forums, including the G20, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Rio+20 summit.

We want to play to the Commonwealth's other key strength: its values. The Arab Spring reminded us of the universal character of these values, and their indispensability for human progress and wellbeing.

We will be considering two sets of recommendations in Perth, from the Eminent Persons' Group and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, on how we can strengthen the Commonwealth's ability to promote and uphold the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights among its membership, and expand the tools it has available to do this.

Last, we want to make sure the Commonwealth as an institution is well positioned for the future. We will be seeking agreement to basic reforms that will improve the functioning and management of the Commonwealth Secretariat and ensure the Commonwealth remains focused on areas where it adds value.

In the increasingly dynamic global order, the Commonwealth has a unique opportunity to reposition itself as an organisation. It has real assets from which to build. We intend to set the directions in Perth for a more purposeful, relevant and valuable Commonwealth, one designed for the future.
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