HM Queen Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth.The Head of The Commonwealth’s role includes a number of symbolic functions. There is no maximum fixed term for the Head of The Commonwealth. The choice of successive Heads will be made collectively by Commonwealth leaders.
Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC is the Commonwealth Secretary-General
The Secretary-General is responsible for representing the Commonwealth publicly, and is the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Secretariat which supports dialogue and collaboration between member governments at the intergovernmental level.
The Secretary-General is selected by Commonwealth leaders and can serve a maximum of two four-year terms.
Patricia Scotland is from Dominica, and is the sixth Secretary-General since the post and the Commonwealth Secretariat were established in 1965.
Gary Dunn, Josephine Ojiambo and Deodat Maharaj are the Commonwealth Deputy Secretaries-General. The Deputy Secretaries-General support the Secretary-General in the management and executive direction of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Mr Dunn was formerly the Deputy Secretary responsible for development programme design and policy at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Dr Ojiambo was formerly Chief of the Executive Board and External Relations Branch at the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA).
Mr Maharaj was formerly Chief, Division for Afghanistan, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York.
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) deals with serious or persistent violations of Commonwealth political values and can recommend measures for collective action.
CMAG can also consider situations of concern in member countries in a proactive, engaged and positive manner.
Its authority to suspend or even recommend to Commonwealth leaders that a member country be expelled is unparalleled by other international organisations.
The Group is convened by the Commonwealth Secretary-General and is made up of a representative of the Commonwealth’s Chair-in-Office and foreign ministers from eight countries – who serve a two-year term.
The Board of Governors approves the Commonwealth Secretariat’s work plans and budgets. All member governments are represented on the Board of Governors, which meets annually.
Malta’s Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat is the current Commonwealth Chair-in-Office.
The Chair-in-Office is the leader of the Commonwealth country that hosts a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The two-year role comes into effect at the start of the CHOGM.
The Chair-in-Office voices Commonwealth positions at high-level international forums and reinforces the Good Offices role of the Commonwealth Secretary-General. The term ‘Good Offices’ refers to conflict prevention and resolution work carried out in Commonwealth countries.
The Charter brings together the values and aspirations which unite the Commonwealth – democracy, human rights and the rule of law – in a single, accessible document.
The Charter expresses the commitment of member states to the development of free and democratic societies and the promotion of peace and prosperity to improve the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth.
The Charter also acknowledges the role of civil society in supporting the goals and values of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest political association of states. Its roots go back to the British Empire when some countries were ruled directly or indirectly by Britain. Some of these countries became self-governing while retaining Britain’s monarch as Head of State. They formed the British Commonwealth of Nations.
In 1949 the association we know today – The Commonwealth – came into being. Since then, independent countries from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific have joined The Commonwealth.
Membership today is based on free and equal voluntary co-operation. The last two countries to join The Commonwealth – Rwanda and Mozambique – have no historical ties to the British Empire.
Fifty two countries are members of the Commonwealth. These countries span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and are diverse – they are amongst the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries. Thirty-one of our members are classified as small states – countries with a population size of 1.5 million people or less and larger member states that share similar characteristics with them.
All members subscribe to the Commonwealth’s values and principles outlined in The Commonwealth Charter.
Leaders of member countries shape Commonwealth policies and priorities. Every two years, they meet to discuss issues affecting the Commonwealth and the wider world at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
All members have an equal say – regardless of size or economic stature. This ensures even the smallest member countries have a voice in shaping the Commonwealth.