Commonwealth Secretary-General

The Commonwealth Secretary-General is the head of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the central body which has served the Commonwealth of Nations since its establishment in 1965, and responsible for representing the Commonwealth publicly.[1] The Commonwealth Secretary-General should not be confused with the Head of the Commonwealth, who is currently Elizabeth II.

Secretary-General of the
Commonwealth of Nations
Patricia Scotland 2013 (cropped)
Patricia Scotland

since 1 April 2016
StyleHer Excellency
AppointerCommonwealth Heads of Government
Term lengthFour years
renewable once
Inaugural holderArnold Smith


The position was created, along with the Secretariat itself, after the fourteenth Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference in London in 1965, issued a memorandum describing the role of the Secretary-General:

Both the Secretary-General and his/her staff should be seen to be the servants of Commonwealth countries collectively. They derive their functions from the authority of Commonwealth Heads of Government; and in the discharge of his/her responsibilities in this connection the Secretary-General should have access to Heads of Government...[1]

The headquarters of the Secretary-General, as with the Secretariat generally, is Marlborough House, a former royal residence in London, which was placed at the disposal of the Secretariat by Queen Elizabeth II. However, as the building cannot house all of the Secretariat's staff in London, additional space is rented elsewhere in London.[2] From this operational base, a large part of the Secretary-General's work involves travelling around the Commonwealth keeping in personal contact with those at the heart of the governments of member states.[2]

The Secretary-General receives a salary of nearly £160,000 (2015) and a four‑storey mansion, Garden House, in Mayfair as their official residence.[3]

Staff and responsibility

The Secretary-General leads the Commonwealth Secretariat, and all Secretariat staff are responsible and answerable to him or her. He or she is supported by three Deputy Secretaries-General, which are elected by the Heads of Government via the members' High Commissioners in London.[2] Currently, the three Deputy Secretaries-General are Deodat Maharaj, Gary Dunn and Josephine Ojiambo. Until 2014, only two Deputy Secretaries-General were appointed along with an Assistant Secretary-General for Corporate Affairs. The Secretary-General may appoint junior staff at his own discretion, provided the Secretariat can afford it, whilst more senior staff may be appointed only from a shortlist of nominations from the Heads of Government.[2] In practice, the Secretary-General has more power than this; member governments consult the Secretary-General on nominations, and the Secretary-General has also at times submitted nominations of his own.[2]

Formally, the Secretary-General is given the same rank as a High Commissioner or ambassador. However, in practice, his or her rank is considerably higher.[2] At CHOGMs, he or she is the equal of the Heads of Government, except with preference deferred to the longest-serving Head of Government. At other ministerial meetings, he or she is considered primus inter pares.[2] But for the first 3 years (of the job's existence) the Foreign Office refused to invite the Secretary-General to the Queen's annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace, much to Arnold Smith's irritation, until in 1968 this refusal was over-ridden by the Queen herself[4]

The Secretary-General was originally required to submit annual reports to the Heads of Government, but this has since been changed to reporting at biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM).[2] The Secretary-General is held responsible by the Commonwealth's Board of Governors in London.[1]


Since the 1993 CHOGM, it has been decided that the Secretary-General is elected to a maximum of two four-year terms.[1] The election is held by the assembled Heads of Government and other ministerial representatives at every other CHOGM. Nominations are received from the member states' governments, who sponsor the nomination through the election process and are responsible for withdrawing their candidate as they see fit.[1]

The election is held in a Restricted Session of the CHOGM, in which only Heads of Government or ministerial representatives thereof may be present. The Chair of the CHOGM (the Head of Government of the host nation) is responsible for ascertaining which candidate has the greatest support, through the conduct of negotiations and secret straw polls.[1]

There is usually a convention that an incumbent seeking a second term in office is elected unopposed for his or her second term.[5] However, this was broken by a Zimbabwe-backed bid for Sri Lankan Lakshman Kadirgamar to displace New Zealand's Don McKinnon in 2003. At the vote, however, Kadirgamar was easily defeated by McKinnon, with only 11 members voting for him against 40 for McKinnon.[6]

At the 2011 CHOGM, India's Kamalesh Sharma was re-elected to his second term unopposed. Sharma had won the position at the 2007 CHOGM, when he defeated Malta's Michael Frendo to replace McKinnon, who had served the maximum two terms.

At the 2015 CHOGM, Patricia Scotland, a former British cabinet minister, was nominated for Commonwealth Secretary-General by her native country of Dominica and defeated Antiguan diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders and former deputy secretary-general for political affairs Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba of Botswana to become the 6th Commonwealth Secretary-General and the first woman to hold the post. She took office on 1 April 2016.[7][8]

List of Secretaries-General

# Name Portrait Country Start End Background
1 Arnold Smith  Canada 1 July 1965 30 June 1975 Canadian ambassador to Egypt (1958-1961)
Canadian ambassador to the USSR (1961-1963)
2 Shridath Ramphal
Shridath Ramphal
 Guyana 1 July 1975 30 June 1990 Foreign Minister of Guyana (1972-1975)
3 Emeka Anyaoku Photo  Nigeria 1 July 1990 31 March 2000 Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs (1977-1990)
4 Don McKinnon
Don McKinnon (cropped)
 New Zealand 1 April 2000 31 March 2008 Foreign Minister of New Zealand (1990-1999)
5 Kamalesh Sharma
Kamalesh Sharma January 2015
 India 1 April 2008 31 March 2016 Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations (1997–2002)

Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom(2004–2008)

6 Patricia Scotland
Patricia Scotland 2013 (cropped)
 United Kingdom
1 April 2016 Incumbent Attorney General for England and Wales and Northern Ireland (2007–2010)
UK Minister of State (Home Office; 2003–2007)
UK Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department; 2001–2003)
UK Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1999–2001)
UK House of Lords (1997–present)


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Role of the Secretary-General". Commonwealth Secretariat. Archived from the original on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Doxey, Margaret (January 1979). "The Commonwealth Secretary-General: Limits of Leadership". International Affairs. 55 (1): 67–83. doi:10.2307/2617133.
  3. ^ "Baroness Patricia Scotland becomes first UK citizen to be elected secretary‑general of Commonwealth". The Independent. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  4. ^ Final Approaches: A Memoir by Gerald Hensley, page 99 (2006, Auckland University Press, New Zealand) ISBN 1-86940-378-9
  5. ^ Baruah, Amit (7 December 2003). "PM, Blair for representative government in Iraq soon". The Hindu. India. Retrieved 27 July 2007.
  6. ^ "Editorial: CHOGM 2003, Abuja, Nigeria". The Round Table. 93 (373): 3–6. January 2004. doi:10.1080/0035853042000188139.
  7. ^ "Commonwealth elects first woman secretary general". Times of Malta. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Lady Scotland vies to be next Commonwealth secretary general". The Guardian. 24 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
1965 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference

The 1965 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference was the fourteenth Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was held in the United Kingdom in June 1965, and was hosted by that country's Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.

The Conference approved Prime Minister Wilson's proposal for a Commonwealth peace mission to Vietnam; Wilson subsequently shelved the initiative. The body also approved the creation of the Commonwealth Secretariat proposed at the previous summit and appoints Canadian Arnold Smith as the first Commonwealth Secretary-General. The meeting also discussed the crisis in Rhodesia, relations with South Africa and Portuguese colonies in Africa, and opposition by Asian and African Commonwealth countries to British, Australian and New Zealand's support for American intervention in the Vietnam War. The Commonwealth reaffirmed its declaration that all Commonwealth states should work for societies based on racial equality.

2008 Swazi general election

A parliamentary election was held in Swaziland for the House of Assembly on 19 September 2008. It was the first election under the new constitution introduced in 2006, and the first time that foreign observers were allowed to monitor an election in the country. It was observed by an Expert Team established by the Commonwealth Secretary-General at the request of the Elections and Boundaries Commission of Swaziland.On the day before the election, several union officials were arrested for attempting to block the border with South Africa at Oshoek for a pro-democracy protest.Political parties remained banned in Swaziland, so all candidates for the 55 seats were independents. Following the election, King Mswati III was to appoint 10 more MPs. The National Assembly would then elect 10 members for the Senate, with the King appointing 20 more.

Alister McIntosh

Sir Alister Donald Miles McIntosh (29 November 1906 – 30 November 1978) was a New Zealand diplomat. McIntosh was New Zealand's first secretary of foreign affairs serving as the principal foreign policy adviser to Prime Ministers Peter Fraser, Sidney Holland, Keith Holyoake, and Walter Nash. He is widely considered to be the father of New Zealand's independent foreign policy and architect of the ministry (then department) of Foreign Affairs in New Zealand.

Arnold Smith

Arnold Cantwell Smith (January 18, 1915 – February 7, 1994) was a Canadian diplomat. He was the first Commonwealth Secretary-General, serving from 1965–1975.

A talented student, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford.

From 1958 to 1961, he was the Canadian Ambassador to Egypt. From 1961 to 1963, he was the Canadian Ambassador to the USSR. During his time at the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth flag was designed on his and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's initiative.

In 1975 he was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour. In 1984, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for "a long and distinguished diplomatic career".Arnold Smith was the elder brother of Wilfred Cantwell Smith.His published work includes Stitches In Time; the Commonwealth in World Politics.

Commission on Global Governance

The Commission on Global Governance was an organization co-chaired by Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson, and former Commonwealth Secretary-General Shridath Ramphal, that produced a controversial report, Our Global Neighborhood, in 1995. The report was attacked by pro-sovereignty groups for calling for United Nations reforms that would increase its power. It also was criticized by world federalists who disliked the terminology of "global governance", which seemed clunkier than "world federalism."

The Commission was established in 1992 with the full support of United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

The Commission made a standard definition of global governance stating that “Governance is the sum of many ways individuals and institutions, public and private, manage their common affairs. It is a continuing process through which conflicting or diverse interests may be accommodated and co-operative action taken. It includes formal institutions and regimes empowered to enforce compliance, as well as informal arrangements that people and institutions either have agreed to or perceive to be in their interest”

Commonwealth Chair-in-Office

The Commonwealth Chair-in-Office (CIO) is the Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth of Nations, and is one of the main leadership positions in the Commonwealth. It is held by the host chairperson of the previous Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and is maintained until the next CHOGM.The primary responsibility of the Chair-in-Office is to host the CHOGM, but their roles can be expanded. For example, after the 2002 CHOGM, the incumbent, previous, and next Chairmen-in-Office formed a troika in an attempt to resolve the ongoing dispute over Zimbabwe's membership of the Commonwealth.

The position was created after the 1999 CHOGM, with Thabo Mbeki becoming the first Chair-in-Office. However, Mbeki did very little to develop the position, leaving it virtually vacant until the next CHOGM, in 2002, when the troika was created. Even after John Howard became Chair, the troika's first meeting was in London, in the presence of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, whose office drafted the troika's statement: leaving little role for the troika itself, but potentially increasing the power of the Secretary-General. The third Chair, Olusegun Obasanjo, did more to invigorate the role of the position after taking over in 2003.Since the assumption of the role at the 2009 CHOGM, representatives from Trinidad and Tobago, including the Prime Ministers, have attended Commonwealth meetings, including 2011 Commonwealth Day celebrations where Persad-Bissessar, the first woman to chair the Commonwealth, gave the keynote address. Sri Lanka was also slated to host the much anticipated Commonwealth Economic Forum in 2011, however, it was held in Perth, Australia due to accusations of war atrocities committed during the Sri Lankan Civil War.

As Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard succeeded Persad-Bissessar as the second female Chair at the 2011 CHOGM. Julia Gillard was in-turn succeeded by Kevin Rudd after resigning as Prime Minister of Australia on 27 June 2013. Rudd went on to lose the Australian federal election in September 2013, and was subsequently succeeded by the new prime minister Tony Abbott. Abbott remained in the position until Commonwealth leaders met for the 23rd time on 15 November 2013, where he was succeeded by the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was succeeded by Maithripala Sirisena in 2015.

Commonwealth Day

Commonwealth Day, replacing the former Empire Day, is the annual celebration of the Commonwealth of Nations, often held on the second Monday in March. It is marked by an Anglican service in Westminster Abbey, normally attended by Queen Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth along with the Commonwealth Secretary-General and Commonwealth High Commissioners in London. The Queen delivers an address to the Commonwealth, which is broadcast throughout the world.Commonwealth Day is a public holiday in some parts of the Commonwealth, but not presently in Britain.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 1973

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 1973 was the second Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was held in Ottawa, Canada, between 2 August and 10 August 1973, and hosted by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

The summit issued a Statement on Nuclear Weapon Tests that affirmed "the unfailing support of Commonwealth governments for the international Treaty banning nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water. It appeals, furthermore, to the international community for a total ban on nuclear weapon tests in any environment." Also discussed were changing relationships among United States, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, regional security, disarmament, the situation in the Middle East and South East Asia (i.e., the Vietnam War), the proposed creation of a peace zone in the Indian Ocean and the situation in Southern Africa and in particular Rhodesia's white minority rule government. Also discussed was the desirability of a worldwide expansion of trade through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and negotiations between the European Economic Community and developing countries.Besides the policy topics discussed, the CHOGM saw a number of incidental, but lasting, innovations that helped define the work of the Commonwealth. The leaders held a private session in Mont-Tremblant, beginning the tradition of the 'retreat', whereby, in addition to the executive sessions, the heads of government leave the host city, taking only their spouses and one advisor each, to be isolated from outside influences and to discuss on less formal terms.The Commonwealth flag emerged from pennants that were designed to be displayed on the leaders' cars in Ottawa. Designed by Trudeau and Commonwealth Secretary-General Arnold Smith (a fellow Canadian), the flag was officially adopted three years later, on 26 March 1976. Although the Royal Commonwealth Society petitioned the CHOGM to discuss creating a uniformly-observed Commonwealth Day, this would eventually be discussed, at the proposal of the Canadian delegation, at the 1975 Meeting, and the Canadian proposals adopted.Queen Elizabeth did not attend the 1971 conference but attended the Ottawa conference on the advice of Prime Minister Trudeau, despite being advised against attending by British prime minister Edward Heath. She would attend all subsequent CHOGMs until absenting herself in 2013 when she began to refrain from long distance travel.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 1979

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 1979 was the fifth Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations. 39 countries attended the meeting. It was held in Lusaka, Zambia, between 1 August 1979 and 7 August 1979, and was hosted by that country's President, Kenneth Kaunda.

Issues discussed at the conference included the situation in Rhodesia, the armed conflicts in Indo-China, the global growth of the refugee problem, the situation in Cyprus and Southern Africa. Mr Shridath Ramphal was re-appointed as Commonwealth Secretary-General during the meeting. The Lusaka Declaration of the Commonwealth on Racism and Racial Prejudice was issued at the end of the CHOGM, including a special declaration condemning apartheid.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2015

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2015, also known as CHOGM 2015 was the 24th meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was held in Malta from 27 to 29 November. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena handed the position of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office to Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat at the meeting.


Emeka is a name of Nigerian origins. It is an abbreviation of the Igbo name Chukwuemeka, meaning "God has done so much". Notable people with the name include:

Emeka Anyaoku (born 1933), Nigerian Commonwealth Secretary-General

Emeka Atuloma (born 1992), Nigerian football midfielder

Emeka Emerun (born 1994), Nigerian football striker

Emeka Esogbue (born 1970), Nigerian historian, journalist, researcher, and writer

Emeka Eze (disambiguation), multiple people, including:

Emeka Friday Eze (born 1996), Nigerian football striker

Emeka Christian Eze (born 1992), Nigerian football midfielder

Emeka Jude Ezeonu (born 1991), Nigerian football forward

Emeka Ezeugo (born 1965), Nigerian football defender, midfielder and coach

Emeka Ifejiagwa (born 1977), Nigerian football defender

Emeka Ike, Nigerian actor

Emeka Mamale (born 1977), Nigerian football striker

Emeka Nwadike (born 1978), English football midfielder

Emeka Nwajiobi (born 1959), Nigerian footballer

Emeka Obi (born 2001), English-born Nigerian football defender

Emeka Obidile (born 1977), Nigerian football midfielder

Emeka Offor, Nigerian oil magnate and entrepreneur

Emeka Ogboh (born 1977), Nigerian sound and installation artist

Emeka Iferika (born 1994),Nigerian Geographer and Environmentalist

Emeka Ogbugh (born 1990), Nigerian football striker

Emeka Okafor (born 1982), American basketball player

Emeka Ononye (born c. 1992), Canadian soccer player

Emeka Onowu (born 1984), Nigerian politician

Emeka Onwuamaegbu (born 1959) Nigerian Army Major General

Emeka Onyenekwu (born 1990), American football defensive end

Emeka Opara (born 1984), Nigerian football striker

Emeka Ossai, Nigerian film actor

Emeka Sibeudu (born 1958), Nigerian politician

Emeka Udechuku (born 1979), English discus thrower

Emeka Jude Ugali (born 1982), Nigerian football striker

Emeka Umeh (born 1999), Nigerian football forward

Anthony Emeka (born 1990), Nigerian football defender

Francis Emeka (born 1990), Nigerian football striker

Flag of the Commonwealth of Nations

The flag of the Commonwealth of Nations is the official flag used by and representing the Commonwealth of Nations. Its current design dates to 2013, a modification of a design adopted in 1976.

Kamalesh Sharma

Kamalesh Sharma, GCVO (born 30 September 1941) is an Indian diplomat. He was the 5th Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations from 2008 to 2016, having previously served as the High Commissioner for India in London.

LGBT rights in the Commonwealth of Nations

The majority of the countries of the Commonwealth of Nations, formerly known as the British Commonwealth, still criminalise sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex and other forms of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Homosexual activity remains a criminal offence in 35 of the 53 sovereign states of the Commonwealth; and legal in only 18.

This has been described as being the result of "the major historical influence" or legacy of the British Empire. In most cases, it was former colonial administrators that established anti-gay legislation or sodomy acts during the 19th century and even earlier. The majority of countries have retained these laws following independence. Due to the common origin of historical penal codes in many former British colonies, the prohibition of homosexual acts, specifically anal sex between men, is provided for in Section 377 in the penal codes of 42 former British colonies, many of whom are today members of the Commonwealth.The penalties for private, consensual sexual conduct between same sex adults remain harsh in a number of Commonwealth countries. They include 10 years imprisonment and hard labour in Jamaica, 14 years in Kenya,

20 years plus flogging in Malaysia. Bangladesh, Barbados, Guyana, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda have a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while in the 12 northern states of Nigeria the maximum penalty for male homosexuality is death. In some countries such as Cameroon, arrests and imprisonment for acts that indicate homosexuality are frequently reported. In Uganda and Nigeria recent legislative proposals would significantly increase the penalties for homosexuality.Member states outlawing homosexuality include Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Bangladesh,Malaysia, Pakistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Malawi, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Kiribati and Tonga.

Manmohan Malhoutra

Manmohan Malhoutra is a former Indian diplomat and Assistant Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Malhoutra studied history at University of Delhi where he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. He entered the Indian Administrative Service in 1961 and between 1966 and 1974 served in the office of the Indian Prime Minister as a foreign policy and environmental issue advisor to Indira Gandhi. In 1975 he became Special Assistant to the Commonwealth Secretary-General and in 1977 the Director and Head of both the Secretary-General's Office and the International Affairs Division.

Prior to Zimbabwe's independence in 1980 he led the Commonwealth Secretariat team which monitored Zimbabwe's pre-independence elections, and through the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group between 1982 and 1993 he was active in applying political pressure in the removal of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

He is a former treasurer of International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance and is currently Secretary-General of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, a funding institute for social welfare programs in India.

He is the editor of "India: The Next Decade" (2006) ISBN 81-7188-564-0

Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba

Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba is a Botswana administrator, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General from 2008 to 2014.In November 2015, she came second to Patricia Scotland from Dominica in the voting to become Commonwealth Secretary-General, losing by 26 votes to 24.Masire-Mwamba is married to Trevor Mwamba, formerly Bishop of Botswana and currently Rector of Barking, East London.

Patricia Scotland

Patricia Janet Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal (born 19 August 1955) is a British politician and barrister who served in ministerial positions within the UK Government, most notably as the Attorney General for England and Wales and Advocate General for Northern Ireland. At the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting she was elected the 6th Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations and took office on 1 April 2016. She is the first woman to hold the post. She is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Dominica.

Shridath Ramphal

Sir Shridath Surendranath Ramphal (born 3 October 1928), often known as Sir Sonny Ramphal, was the second Commonwealth Secretary-General, from 1975 to 1990. He was the Foreign Minister of Guyana, from 1972 to 1975, and Assistant Attorney General of the West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962.

Shridath Ramphal is an Earth Charter International Commission member.

Timeline of the Commonwealth of Nations

This is a timeline of the Commonwealth of Nations from the Balfour Declaration. Some regard the Balfour Declaration as the foundation of the modern Commonwealth.

Secretaries-General of the Commonwealth of Nations
Heads of government
Commonwealth Family

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