Baroness Scotland on the prospect of a 'Truth and Reconciliation' summit

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The head of the Commonwealth association Baroness Scotland has proposed the possibility of a 'truth and reconciliation' summit across the 54 states. The summit which was proposed by the Secretary General would look at the history of the association and its relationship with race. The idea for the summit which was floated during an exclusive interview with the Telegraph comes off the back of Prince Harry's call to acknowledge the Commonwealths 'uncomfortable history'.

Even more pertinent is the fact that the comment comes in the wake of the eruption of support for the Black Lives Matter movement which transformed into a global protest following the death of George Floyd. The fallout has seen the fabric of many western democracies called into question, with areas of education to the commemoration of past figures in the form of statues having seen intense scrutiny.

But as she revealed to The Telegraph, Baroness Scotland is not deterred at the prospect of difficult conversations. She told The Telegraph: "The ministers are all saying this is an issue which we are going to have to deal with, and there is a lot of support. The debate doesn't go away because you have it under the carpet. These are not comfortable conversations but this is where the Commonwealth is great, because the people and countries involved are all on that journey. It's not just talking to one side, we're all the sides."

In the same interview she floated the idea of Black History Month being held across the entire Commonwealth which could offer another possibility further down the line for the association. Her original proposition also begs the question both as to what point in time the debate begins and ends regarding how British exploits have affected members of the Commonwealth. In any case, Baroness Scotland’s proposal presents an opportunity to open some dialogue regarding the nature of Britain’s history and how it has impacted others at an International level.

Her comments were given not just with an eye to the present but also for the future, and the implications in which a open discussion on the pretext to the Commonwealth and the history which preceded it could have on young people. She added:

“You can't say to young people don't talk about this, don't talk about colonialism, not about where we have been. It has never been for us black or white, rich or poor. This has been a conversation we had to have in order to create the Commonwealth."

These comments follow in a similar vein to those seen in July by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Speaking during a video discussion on justice and equal rights with young leaders from the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, Prince Harry offered the view that there was ‘no way to move forward unless we acknowledged the past.

He said: “So many people have done such an incredible job of acknowledging the past and trying to right those wrongs, but I think we all acknowledge there is so much more still to do. It’s not going to be easy and in some cases it’s not going to be comfortable but it needs to be done, because guess what, everybody benefits.”

The Duchess of Sussex offered her own thoughts, stating: “We’re going to have to be a little uncomfortable right now, because it’s only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this and find the place where a high tide raises all ships. Equality does not put anyone on the back foot, it puts us all on the same footing – which is a fundamental human right.”

Baroness Scotland’s proposal is one which many are sure to ponder. What do you think about the possibility of a truth and reconciliation summit?

Mayowa Ayodele

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