On Friday 19th March 2021, Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland QC, delivered this year’s Last Lecture at Strathmore Law School. Patricia Scotland is the sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General, the second from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post. She was also the first black woman and the youngest to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 1991.
In attendance were Professor Da Silva, Strathmore University Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research and Innovation; Dr. Kwenjera, Dean of Strathmore Law School; Dr. Franceschi, Founding Dean (Emeritus) of Strathmore Law School and Senior Director of Governance and Peace at the Commonwealth; Members of Staff from the Commonwealth and faculty and students from Strathmore Law School.
Choose to Change
Titled “The SG Challenge: Choose to Change” the main takeaway from the Secretary-General’s keynote address was a call-to-action to reconsider the foundations of our societies. She emphasised that the pressing concerns of our time, notably the public health crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest being witnessed in many countries, expose the fragility of our global and national systems. This, she argued, requires bold and innovative responses poised to renew faith in institutions to cultivate better governance both nationally and globally.
Addressing the students and the Law School’s soon-to-be Graduating Class of 2021, the Secretary-General stated that the challenge of transforming rigid and outdated systems of governance will require the creativity and courage of robust youth. To succeed, she stressed the centrality of three key values—integrity, trust, and respect. Integrity: the courage to be whole and to mould oneself in relation to truth. Trust: to believe firmly in the achievement of justice. Respect: due regard for oneself and others in a world too eager to reduce lived experiences to data.
Today, we face the daunting but not-impossible task of reimagining and creating the new post-pandemic era. The pursuit of a truer form of democracy and inclusivity, transparent and accountable government, wealth equality, the preservation of eco-systems and biodiversity, among others. These ambitions will be futile in the absence of the meaningful participation of the younger generation.
After responding to several questions from the audience, the Secretary-General concluded by reaffirming the Commonwealth’s commitment to support the younger generation in exploring new possibilities to reshape the world as we know it.
This article was written by Wambui Kelemba, a 3rd Year LLB student at the Strathmore Law School.
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