Opening the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Nigeria, 5 December 2005


The Commonwealth is one of the great partnerships of the world where rich and poor, large and small, work together for the common good.

President Obasanjo, Mr. Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your words of welcome. Mr. President, this opening ceremony is an unmistakably African occasion and I am delighted to be back in this great continent of Africa which means so much to me and plays such an important part in the Commonwealth.

It is a particular pleasure to return to Nigeria after many years. I thank you, Mr. President, for the warmth and hospitality which you and the Nigerian people have extended to Prince Philip and me during our visit.

Although the structure of these Commonwealth meetings has rightly evolved with the times, I would like to think that they retain their unique character. It is not just a question of being able to communicate in the same language, but of being able to work in a family environment, of making decisions - sometimes difficult ones - by consensus, and of stimulating genuine dialogue at such meetings not only around the conference table but in less formal groups in the corridors and at the retreats.

I would also like to think that the organisation has been able to retain its fundamental principles and values, be they democracy, human rights and the rule of law, or gender equality, or sustainable development. I have also been struck by the many examples of Commonwealth countries inviting the association to help them constructively to resolve political problems and to meet the challenges of development. That is the most eloquent testimony possible to the confidence which members have in the organisation.

Moreover the Commonwealth is an example of multilateralism at work, allowing all its members whatever their size or level of development to have their voices heard in the concert of nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you are meeting here at a time when old as well as new challenges confront us. Poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, the scourge of HIV/AIDS, the lack of educational opportunities, are all among the legacies which the world has not been able to overcome. They continue to threaten global stability, just as the menace of terrorism and unresolved conflicts pose new and sinister challenges to it. The Millennium Development Goals still remain a distant objective.

The theme of your meeting, Development and Democracy: Partnership for Peace and Prosperity, captures imperatives that are central to the Commonwealth. Democracy gives people a choice in how they are governed, and those in Government rule with the consent of their people. Underdevelopment is one of the greatest threats to democracy; the one cannot be sustained without the other. Your theme also talks of partnership.

The Commonwealth is one of the great partnerships of the world where rich and poor, large and small, work together for the common good. This partnership remains crucial not just for peace and prosperity within the Commonwealth, but in the wider world. It puts our association in a strong position to meet the pressing challenges of our time: eradicating poverty, creating a fair and open trade environment, bridging the digital divide, combating terrorism and building a more peaceful world for us all.

This is a daunting agenda, but I know that you will address these difficult issues with a serious sense of purpose and in a family spirit which have become the hallmarks of these meetings. Your decisions can make a real difference to people's lives and I hope the Commonwealth will emerge reinvigorated from Abuja to reaffirm its prominent place on the international stage.

I wish you every success in your discussions.

Related content

The Queen's Commonwealth Day Message 2021

Stirring examples of courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty have been demonstrated in every Commonwealth nation and territory.

07 March 2021

Commonwealth Day 2020

09 March 2020

The Queen's 2020 Commonwealth Day Message

Such a blend of traditions serves to make us stronger, individually and collectively, by providing the ingredients needed for social, political and economic resilience

09 March 2020

A speech by The Countess of Wessex celebrating the work of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust

On behalf of the people The Trust has helped thank you to each and every one of you for all your incredible support, and to Your Majesty thank you for choosing to give the...

29 October 2019

International Youth Day 2019

12 August 2019

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018

Find out more about Royal events at this year's meeting, which is being held in London

Commonwealth Day 2018

12 March 2018

The Queen in Aberdeen

29 September 2017

A Message from Her Majesty The Queen on the opening of the 2017 Commonwealth Science Conference

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the Commonwealth Science Conference in Singapore following the success of the Bangalore Conference in 2014. I am very grateful...

13 June 2017
Press release 20 December 2016

The Queen's Patronages

Read more

A message from Her Majesty The Queen to the people of Barbados on the 50th Anniversary of Independence

Since you became an independent country in 1966, you have continued to flourish and grow into a strong and confident nation.

30 November 2016

A speech by Prince Harry on the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy dedication in St Lucia

On behalf of my grandmother, The Queen, I am grateful to the Government and the people of St. Lucia for this most generous contribution.

27 November 2016

Remembrance 2016

The Queen and the Royal Family attend engagements to mark Remembrance 2016

The Queen's Commonwealth Day message, 14 March 2016

Being inclusive and accepting diversity goes far deeper than accepting differences at face value and being tolerant.

14 March 2016

The Queen's Young Leaders

The Queen’s Young Leader Award celebrates exceptional people from across the Commonwealth

The Queen's Commonwealth Day Message, 10 March 2014

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.

10 March 2014

The Queen's Message to the Athletes

The baton relay represents a calling together of people from every part of the Commonwealth.

23 July 2014

Commonwealth Day message 2008

In the Commonwealth, governments, businesses, communities and individuals should each strive to match words and good intentions with deeds. Every contribution has its part to...

10 March 2008

Christmas Broadcast 2015

I have been warned I may have Happy Birthday sung to me more than once or twice.

25 December 2015

Commonwealth Day message 2007

Despite its size and scale, the Commonwealth to me is still at heart a collection of villages.

12 March 2007

A speech by The Queen at the CHOGM Dinner, Malta, 2015

Thank you, Mr Prime Minister of Canada, for making me feel so old!

27 November 2015

A speech by The Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen, I feel enormously proud of what the Commonwealth has achieved, and all of it within my lifetime

27 November 2015
Press release 28 October 2015

The Queen will open the Commonwealth Games

Read more
Press release 27 October 2015

State Visit to Malta and CHOGM

Read more

Rugby World Cup 2015

13 October 2015
Press release 09 August 2015

The Queen's message to the President of Singapore

Read more

The Queen's Commonwealth Day Message, 2015

One simple lesson from history is that when people come together to talk, to exchange ideas and to develop common goals, wonderful things can happen.

09 March 2015
Press release 25 November 2014

The Queen's message to the Commonwealth Science Conference

Read more