Foreign Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence from the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management

This submission is made by the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management Ltd and is in response to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s call for evidence in respect to its’ inquiry into “the role and future of The Commonwealth”. We have noted the questions and the appropriateness of our answers are specific to only some that were addressed, Therefore we have most usefully and pointedly given our evidence in a single submission.

1. CPTM agrees with Mr Richard Ottaway MP regarding the disappointing outcomes from CHOGM in Perth last year. The outcomes from Perth were a “watering down” of even the Eminent Persons Group findings and recommendations which were themselves quite modestly framed.

2. What is distinctive about the Commonwealth is not its set of values, which is probably shared by the UN, its Agencies, many global NGOs, Governments and much of the “world community”. What is special is the Commonwealth’s capacity for drawing on those values: the capacity to “extract value from values”. This Smart “extraction” is precisely what the Smart Partnership Movement (CPTM) is about. CPTM’s focus and aptitude—in complex situations involving various players—is on maximising the plus points and minimising the impact of the negatives, to achieve win-win answers.

The Commonwealth should be about delivering value from values and that is where the CPTM Smart Partnership Movement has a specific contribution to make. CPTM Members are able to approach the delivery of these values from a helpful/constructive point of view, sharing and deploying the underlying values of the Commonwealth. CPTM offers a special approach to delivering these values—characterised by an ability to set aside aggravating factors, and to emphasise possible factors or elements from which win-win solutions can emerge. This can enhance the longer-term development of trust between players, which can build cumulatively for a more cooperative, Smarter future.

3. CPTM members see three ingredients within the Commonwealth experience since its inception in 1984 and then in 1995 when it became CPTM as it now. Among the Movements’ assets are:

Shared history. CPTM recognizes both negative and positive factors alongside the importance of the intellectual axis it often uses, such as tradition and modernity (as in Southern Africa). This represents an authentic and realistic approach which recognizes what the British and other players have contributed towards and what they have not.

Shared value of the English language is a big advantage for the sharing of ideas within a homogenous sphere.

The arrival/development of a new range of art, culture and media which enable the conceptual frameworks of participants to share ideas and to maximise the benefits with one another.

4. Among the CPTM Movement’s assets is a range of definable experts (ie. “Smart Partners”) in natural sciences, business, civil service, humanities, linguistics etc:

Above all, CPTM is known for having a measure of expertise in areas in which there is no formally prescribed education or teachers, such as political and societal leadership.

CPTM discovered a special method of bringing together and blending expertise for different and diverse sorts of people; people may have different mentalities, but can still share the same values. Heads of Government are able to engage with one another…and can think freely, liberally…they are able to free themselves their previous status, prejudices and tied constituencies.

5. The capacity for establishing complementary, non-rivalrous relationships is characteristic of the Commonwealth and is manifested through the Smart Partners relations, developed for 25 years or so through the CPTM framework. In this way, CPTM Members contribute towards the establishment of “soft power” which is good per se but also supplies an underlay for the deployment, where necessary, of “harder power”. There is an element of “soft power” which averts the necessity for “hard power”:

There is a need for the youth of the Commonwealth to have the courage to challenge and to offer alternatives, but also the wisdom not to rebel for the sake of rebelling. This makes the Commonwealth a progressive platform, binding generations by encouraging learning and collaboration.

CPTM is “cooperative” but not “soft”. It is not itself profit-driven but believes in the value of the profit motive in a framework of regulated competition which does not violate certain basic principles of equity. CPTM seeks to be at the cutting edge of new ideas, technologies and thought: ideas “on the table” and “ideas for action”. CPTM Smart Partners are on the same “wavelength” as a result.

It is therefore useful to re emphasize that the values of the Commonwealth are not that different from the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, but the difference lies in the capacity among nations to deliver shared values. CPTM and the Smart Partnership Movement is well placed to provide leverage for the delivery of these values.

Examples of CPTM Members and their contributions can be found on the CPTM Website:

6. The Commonwealth was and continues to be a unique platform for emerging progressive Movements, such as The Smart Partnership Movement. It costs nothing to be a Smart Partner in the Movement but it can encourage for example, trade among other things.

CPTM has something special to offer in that we can provide leverage behind the “soft values” of the Commonwealth. CPTM has a reconciling effect whereby values are transformed and utilised to impact upon real situations.

7. The benefits of membership of the Commonwealth in terms of trade have been outlined by CPTM Fellow Sir Martin Laing CBE, who reflects that:

“The name says it all ‘Common Wealth’…The role should be to achieve this for all the members…developed countries should share and help those less developed to achieve the goal of common wealth; this will increase business opportunities. Utilising the wealth of DFID to promote these attitudes with vigour; use the unique grouping of Commonwealth members to bring about change through shared experiences. Membership of the Commonwealth can bring increased trade opportunities for the UK; enable it to improve human rights; increase its image in a positive way. We have allowed ourselves to miss this chance through too much emphasis being placed on other global bodies such as G20 UN etc. Communication of and through the Commonwealth needs to be improved; its profile needs to be raised through better PR; better use of the new media-Internet, social media. Business opportunities, successes recognised. Use the Commonwealth organisation to help the younger generation to develop their potential in all fields whether academic, economic, artistic or political. There should be greater co-operation with other bodies both public and private”.

8. In regard to the promotion of “soft power” and a positive image of the UK, in so far as the Commonwealth is based in the UK, and as a side-effect of the UK’s promotion of the Commonwealth, it is obviously a positive thing that the UK is a member of the Commonwealth. As Dr Andrew Taussig, CPTM Member and former BBC Manager suggests:

“If membership of the Commonwealth serves to promote a positive image, then so much the better. The UK pulls above its weight in certain areas—excelling in the arts, culture and the media out of proportion to its size, population or GDP. Its use of the English language—fortuitously shared (more or less) with the North American superpower—supports the spread of British influence throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. The Commonwealth is an appropriate instrument for optimising the UK’s ‘soft power’”.

9. In regard to the direct benefits which the Commonwealth bring to citizens of the UK and the Commonwealth countries, a principal asset of the Commonwealth is the role and function of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen anchors the “dignified” part of the Constitution (ie that part which is symbolic).

Sport, as instanced by the Commonwealth Games, is another strand of the fabric which binds the UK into the Commonwealth community.

21 March 2012

Prepared 14th November 2012