Kamalesh SharmaOutgoing Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma spoke about the 2016 theme of 'An Inclusive Commonwealth' at the UN [credit: UN website]


Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma made his final presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Council on 2 March outlining how tackling discrimination and addressing radicalisation would work under the Commonwealth’s 2016 theme of ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’.

Or click here to watch the 10-minute video.

On the issue of laws criminalising homosexuality and sexual orientation, Kamalesh Sharma said that the Commonwealth would continue to work with its member states towards inclusiveness and that dealing with laws on sexual orientation and gender identity remained one of the “most pressing human rights challenges”.

He told the Council that: “discrimination on any grounds has no place in the modern Commonwealth”.

He added that “the Commonwealth cannot be truly inclusive if criminalisation of homosexuality and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity are not addressed”.

Mr Sharma also spoke about the “urgent need” to collectively and effectively address the “ever-increasing global utterance of violent extremism”.

He cited the lack of inclusion, the stifling of voices, discrimination and marginalisation as some of the factors helping to perpetuate “a tragically violent narrative of our times” and outlined the decision taken by Commonwealth leaders in November 2015 to set up the Commonwealth unit to counter radicalisation.

He said farewell to the Council and said that his successor, Patricia Scotland, would take over the job of Commonwealth Secretary-General in April.

Related stories

What did the Malta CHOGM achieve – from Malta Notebook by Stuart Mole

Universities to help the Commonwealth fight radicalisation – by Paul Flather

A Commonwealth discourse for a young demographic – by Martin Mulligan

New Secretary-General, new direction? by Oren Gruenbaum

Towards a Commonwealth built on all our talents by Patricia Scotland