A Regular Small States Meeting
Feasibility of the Commonwealth
convening periodic global meetings
of small states representatives
Mr. David Peretz
• Existing meetings and fora
• Potential value of an additional meeting
• Issues for discussion
• Aims and outputs
• Attendance and format
• Periodicity, location and timing
• Emerging views from questionnaire answers
Existing meetings and fora
• In 1983, a Commonwealth Consultative Group ‘s proposals led to
formation of the Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Small States
which used to meet in the wings of the Commonwealth Heads of
Government meetings. This group no longer meets, apart from occasional
meetings of High Commissioners in London.
• The April 2000 report of a Joint World Bank and Commonwealth
Secretariat Task Force on Small States led to the establishment of the
annual Small States Forum by the World Bank – which continues to meet
for a few hours each year in the margins if the Bank/Fund Annual
• The adoption of the Mauritius Strategy in 2005, led the UN to dedicate
one day as Small Island Developing States (SIDS) day during the annual
Council on Sustainable Development (CSD) deliberations. In 2007 no SIDS
day was held, and in 2008 it was only a side event during the CSD
• In the WTO there are Dedicated Sessions on issues relating to small
vulnerable economies in the Committee on Trade and Development.
Potential value of an additional
• It would supplement the more narrowly focused WTO and
UN SIDS meetings, by providing a forum at which the
complete range of issues of concern to small states could
• It would provide a forum, like the present meeting, at
which issues could be discussed at greater length and in
greater depth than is possible at the annual World Bank
Small States Forum.
• It would replace the now defunct Commonwealth
Ministerial Group on Small States as a forum for
considering and agreeing messages about the special needs
and concerns of small states to be conveyed to CFMM,
CHOGM, to the international institutions and to the global
community – for example to meetings of the G8 and G20.
Issues for discussion
• 2006 review of 2000 Task Force report identifies
14 areas as critical for small states development,
ranging from adjustment to new trade regimes
and economic management to governance,
security and crime and regional cooperation.
• Could discuss all these themes and others.
• Sensible to choose particular themes for
particular meetings – such as focus of current
meeting on implications of global crisis
Critical areas identified in 2006 review
• Adjustment to new trade regimes.
• Economic management and public finance.
• Education and strengthening the knowledge base.
• Private sector development.
• Financial sector development and regulation.
• Governance and capacity building.
• Security and crime.
• Environment and sustainable development.
• Managing natural resource endowments.
• Disaster insurance and risk management.
• Debt management and relief.
• Youth unemployment.
• Regional cooperation.
Potential aims and outputs
• It could serve as a forum where small developing states and the
international institutions and donors that provide advice and help
can share experiences and learn from each other how best to
address their particular vulnerabilities. The work of the Small
States Network for Economic Development will be relevant.
• It would provide an opportunity – like the present meeting - for
small states to discuss the impact and challenges they face as a
result of major global developments - political, economic, financial,
environmental, and other.
• It could agree and deliver messages, advocacy, on behalf of small
states. Within the Commonwealth to CFMM and CHOGM. But also
to relevant global meetings, including the G7/8 and G20; to the UN;
and to international institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and
WTO and their governing bodies.
Attendance and format
• Should involve non-Commonwealth as well as
Commonwealth small states, for maximum value
• Probably useful to involve international
organisations and IGOs.
• 1 ½ to 2 days to give more time for discussion
than annual World Bank forum.
• Probably senior official rather than ministerial
• A combination of presentations, plenary
discussion and break out sessions.
Periodicity, location and timing
• Advantages of association with another
existing meeting, but probably not a realistic
• Every 2 years, rather than every year?
• London, at least for initial meeting. Possibly
• February, July, or November?
Initial views from answers to
• Only 7 replies so far.
• But appears to be considerable support for
• Will analyse when have more complete set of