Commonwealth Day 2014: "Team Commonwealth"
The theme is intended to stress the importance of teamwork and collaboration both within and between Commonwealth countries. It also sets the tone for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later in the year (23 July 2014 to 3 August).
HM Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth
In July this year, the opening of the 20th Commonwealth Games will be marked by the arrival in Glasgow of the baton that started its journey from Buckingham Palace five months ago.
Many of us are following closely the news of the baton relay as it passes through the 70 countries and territories whose teams will gather for the Games. The images bring vividly to life what we mean by the Commonwealth family: it is wonderful to see the warmth, shared endeavour and goodwill as the baton is passed through the hands of many thousands of people.
Affinities of history and inheritance from the past are strong, yet we are bound together by a sense that the Commonwealth is a powerful influence of good for the future. People of all ages from different cultures are weaving an ever-growing network of links which connect us in our diversity and our common purpose. It is this unity that is expressed in this year's theme: 'Team Commonwealth'.
While national teams will be concentrating on the competition in August, Team Commonwealth will have a longer focus, working together to achieve a more enduring success.
Experiences of life differ widely throughout the Commonwealth, and we each make contributions from sometimes very different viewpoints. But we are committed to the same goals. Together we offer each other encouragement and draw strength from this mutual support.
The understanding that we belong together, and are able, through teamwork, to achieve far more than we could do alone, has always been at the heart of our approach. For all of us this is now captured in the Commonwealth Charter which sets out the values and principles which guide and motivate us.
This year, more children and young people are participating in Commonwealth Day celebrations. Advances in technology enable us to reach a greater number of young people in schools, on-line using the 'Commonwealth Class' initiative, and through events in local communities where the Commonwealth flag is being raised.
I am delighted that in this, the year of 'Team Commonwealth', we will be working to build a brighter, united future in which every one of us can play a part and share in its rewards.
The Full text of the Queen's Message may be downloaded here
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma
What happens on the other side of the world from where any of us calls 'home' can have as much impact on our lives as the actions of neighbours next door. We see that the sustainability and resilience of our communities - our very survival - depends on the safety and wellbeing of all, and of this fragile planet. It is more important than ever for all to work and act together - as is the spirit in the Commonwealth - with mutual respect and understanding.
The Commonwealth stands out globally both for the remarkable diversity of our membership, and for the way in which we co-operate on the basis of our shared values and goals, advancing democracy and development for all. There is a shared conviction that we belong together and want the best for each other. Multiple levels of connection exist, and an exceptional sense of being bound together as individuals, as communities, and as countries.
The essence of a team is that - like the Commonwealth - its members know the advantage of working together and the strength of mutual support. The essence of a team also is that - like the Commonwealth - it has shared aspirations and a sense of common purpose, and relies on the range of contributions and different strengths of each of its members. The essence of a successful team - such as the Commonwealth - is that together it achieves more than the sum of its parts.
We connect, communicate, and are committed to supporting one another.
Spread across six continents and five oceans, the populations of our member states range from 10,000 to over a billion. As with the best of sports teams, there are lively discussions about tactics, and the occasional difference, but always shared goodwill and the prospect of collective progress.
Commonwealth Day offers time for each of us to reflect on how, as members of 'Team Commonwealth', we can turn its goodwill and potential for practical action to positive effect. By making connections from our workplace, or home community, and adding our own contributions to those of the worldwide Commonwealth web, we can multiply our opportunities and work to build a safer, fairer, and more inclusive Commonwealth and world community.
The Full Text of the Secretary - General's Message May be Downloaded Here