The Visa Project

The easing of visa requirements for business travellers and holidaymakers travelling between Commonwealth states (with the Commonwealth Secretariat).

The 2013 visa project, for report to the Commonwealth summit in November, is being funded by the Commonwealth Secretariat. It follows a recommendation from the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, established in 2009 to suggest ways of modernising the Commonwealth, it stated that public support for the Commonwealth would greatly increase if travellers could move more easily between member states. In 2012 this recommendation was adopted by a ministerial taskforce and the Commonwealth Secretary General approached the Institute to undertake the work. The Institute’s researcher is analysing the complex situation which now exists among the 54 states. Three high-level representatives, known as Ramphal Commissioners, will visit a sample of 15 capitals around the world to consult on how restrictions on tourism and business travel might be eased.

The Hon Dr Michael Frendo has completed his consultations in Malta before travelling to London. He then visited Bridgetown, Barbados and Kingston, Jamaica.

Dr James Jonah has completed his journey which began in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He then visited Accra, Ghana and Abuja, Nigeria. He then travelled to Pretoria, South Africa and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Ambassador Farooq Sobhan has already meet with people in Ottawa, Canada. He will then visit Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Canberra, Australia. The third leg of his trip will commence in Delhi, India and include Islamabad, Pakistan and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Ramphal Commissioners

The Hon Dr Michael Frendo

The Hon Dr Michael Frendo was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta from 2004-2008. He was a member of the Maltese Parliament for over 23 years, where he served in several Ministerial posts. He recently stepped down as Speaker of the Parliament. Dr Frendo has been closely involved in Commonwealth affairs throughout his career and was a member and later Chair of the Commonwealth Action group (CMAG) and Chair of Commonwealth Connects, the Commonwealth ICT Programme for Development. He has been a member of the European Convention on the Future of Europe and a signatory to its Draft Constitution Treaty as well as a signatory to the Treaty of Lisbon which superseded it and which came into force in December 2009. Dr Frendo has published numerous books on European affairs and has written on legal issues.

Dr James Jonah

Dr James Jonah served the United Nations for over three decades, first entering the service in 1970 as Political Adviser in the Office of the Secretary General. He was in that post until 1979 when he was appointed Assistant Secretary-General for personnel services (1979-82) and then was in charge of Field Operations and External Activities (1982-87) and for Special Political Questions (1991-1992). He retired as the Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs in 1994. After leaving the UN he was appointed by his home country Sierra Leone as Permanent Representative at the UN from 1996-1998 and then Minister of Finance, Development and Economic Planning (1998-2001). He is currently a senior fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Affairs at the City University of New York. He has published several articles on international issues as well as an autobiography.

Ambassador Farooq Sobhan

Mr Farooq Sobhan has had a long and distinguished career in the diplomatic service of his country rising to the head of the service as Foreign Secretary from 1995-1997 and Special Envoy of the Prime Minister from 1997-1999 with the rank of State Minister. During his diplomatic career he served as Ambassador/High Commissioner to India, China, Malaysia and the United Nations. While at the UN, he was Chairman of the Group of 77 in 1982-83. He was also the special envoy of his country's Caretaker Government with the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister on visits to Washington and the United Nations in May 2007. Mr Sobhan is currently President and CEO of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute which was established in October 2000 as an independent research institute committed to the development of the private sector in Bangladesh. The Institute also promotes dialogue between the Government and the private sector as well as regional cooperation in South Asia.