Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today on the occasion of Commonwealth Day, the annual celebration of the Commonwealth of Nations, observed by roughly 2.4 billion people in 53 countries around the world, spread over every continent and ocean.
The day will be celebrated with a broad range of activities, including faith and civic gatherings, debates, school assemblies, flag raising ceremonies, street parties, cultural events, and a multicultural, multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey, where the head of the Commonwealth, the sovereign Her Majesty the Queen, will deliver an address that will be broadcast around the world.
The theme for 2019 is "A Connected Commonwealth," which offers opportunities for the people, governments, and institutions of this richly diverse family of nations to connect and work together at many levels through far-reaching and deep-rooted networks of friendship and goodwill.
This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the formation of the Commonwealth as we know it today. What was once held together by colonial rule has transformed into an international community of nations in free association, with old ties and new links enabling co-operation towards social, political, and economic development which is both inclusive and sustainable.
To quote the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland, "At this time, when multilateralism is under threat and we see nationalism and narrow self-interest on the rise, the Commonwealth shines as a beacon of hope and promise, inspiring confidence in the benefits of international cooperation and collective action."
Commonwealth Day serves as a reminder of the awesome responsibility we bear to each other as human beings and of the continuing importance of international cooperation and of the peaceful co-existence of nation-states, cultures, and peoples.
I would like to conclude with the encouraging words of Her Majesty the Queen, "We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links that we share and thanks to the networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute and on which we draw. With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that, whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real."
Happy Commonwealth Day, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.