Theresa May calls for revitalised Commonwealth at reception ahead of 2018 Heads of Government Meeting

Prime Minister Theresa May will co-host a reception for Commonwealth leaders tonight at the UN General Assembly.

Theresa May United Nations
UK Prime Minister Theresa May with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop at the Heads of Government event at the United Nations. Photo: Twitter/JulieBishopMP

Last night, UK Prime Minister Theresa May co-hosted a reception for Commonwealth leaders in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York where she set out the need for a wholesale revitalisation of the Commonwealth if it is to thrive and serve its 2.4 billion citizens into the 21st century.

She also launched the theme for the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – Towards a Common Future – and set out the four main goals for the summit, due to be held in the UK next spring:

  • boosting intra-Commonwealth trade and investment
  • security: increasing cooperation across security challenges including global terrorism, organised crime and cyber attacks
  • fairness: promoting democracy, fundamental freedoms and good governance across the Commonwealth
  • sustainability: building the resilience of small and vulnerable states to deal with the effects of climate change and other global crises

Speaking ahead of the reception, the Prime Minister said:

“As the world changes, so must the Commonwealth if it is to rise to the new challenges that the 21st century presents. It is the responsibility of all members to ensure we are working together towards a common future that will meet the needs of all our peoples, particularly our youth. I look forward to this unique organisation coming together at next year’s Heads of Government Meeting to pursue an ambitious agenda for a more prosperous, secure, fair and sustainable future for everyone.”


Also speaking at the reception was co-host Prime Minister Muscat of Malta as the current Commonwealth chair, the Commonwealth Secretariat Secretary-General, and youth representatives drawn from across the Commonwealth who will help to deliver the Commonwealth Youth Forum at next year’s summit.

In her speech, the Prime Minister also outlined the need for the Commonwealth to have a clearer purpose, and be better able to address the global challenges we face. With 60% of its population under 30, she highlighted the need for the Commonwealth to respond to the concerns and priorities of its young people.

The biggest meeting of Heads of Government the UK has ever hosted, the summit will take place in iconic venues in London and Windsor including Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Windsor Castle from 16-20 April 2018.

It will bring together up to 52 Commonwealth leaders, up to 52 Foreign Ministers and thousands of people from across business and civil society, representing the Commonwealth’s vibrant and diverse global network.