Commonwealth Oral History Project Launched in Malta ahead of CHOGM

Monday 30 November 2015

The 27-29th November marked the busiest period in the Commonwealth calendar with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Valetta, Malta. The Institute of Commonwealth Studies was represented at the event by Professor Philip Murphy, Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and Dr Sue Onslow, Senior Lecturer in Commonwealth Studies. The evening before the CHOGM began, Professor Murphy and Dr Onslow hosted representatives from across the Commonwealth at the launch of the Commonwealth Oral History Project (COHP). Funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, the COHP features over 70 interviews with politicians, diplomats, and civil servants from across the Commonwealth and is a unique digital research resource for the oral history of the Commonwealth since 1965.

Following the successful launch event, Professor Murphy and Dr Onslow were able to experience the CHOGM for themselves, including the historic election of the new Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland.

Dr Onslow commented: ‘It was an extraordinarily human summit gathering – in terms of good humour and appreciation, policy relevance and personal inspiration. This was across the board: the evident pleasure of ordinary Maltese we spoke to that CHOGM, and particularly the Queen, was there; the impassioned lecture given by Dr Lawrence Gonzi, former Prime Minister and ex-chair in office, on the value and latent power of the Commonwealth: because of its human capital, its convening power and contacts. At Malta, the heads expressly put out a statement on climate change to go to COP21 – a highly conscious gesture that the fizzled Commonwealth climate change initiative in the run up to the Copenhagen 2009 fiasco wouldn’t be repeated. The Deputy Minister of Health for Lesotho was emphatic that she found the first Women’s Forum "very empowering. I am going back to my country with the feeling I can make a difference. And I will."’