Commonwealth Secretariat

Secrétariat pour les pays du Commonwealth
Secretaria del Commonwealth

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1965 London UK


1965, London (UK), by decision of Commonwealth Heads of Government. The Commonwealth Secretariat, previously also referred by the initials CS, operates as an international organization at the service of all Commonwealth countries. Internally referred to as ComSec.

Origins lie in 'London Declaration' of Apr 1949, which leaders from Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Ceylon and UK adopted and through which member countries no longer owed allegiance to the British Crown, but recognized British head as the symbol of their 'free and equal' association. It marked the end of colonial 'British Commonwealth' and the start of the 'modern Commonwealth', an association of independent countries without a written constitution. Practice is for new members to be admitted only by the consent of all other members, and after showing their commitment for the association's core values.

Having no formal charter, the Commonwealth has, instead, a series of declarations, largely emanating from Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGMs), to which all member countries voluntarily subscribe. Key declarations are: Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, 1971, Singapore (Singapore); Harare Commonwealth Declaration, 1991; Millbrook Action Programme on the Harare Declaration, 1995 (New Zealand), when 'Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group', was set up to address serious or persistent violations of the Commonwealth's fundamental values; Trinidad and Tobago Affirmation on Commonwealth Values and Principles, Nov 2009. Other pioneering commitments include: commitment to the 'separation of powers' between legislature, judiciary and executive' - known as Latimer House Principles, 2003; extension of democratic principles to local government and grassroots civil society organizations, known as Aberdeen Principles, 2003. Other key declaration issued at CHOGMs, include: Langkawi Declaration on Environment, 1989; Valletta Statement on Multilateral Trade, 2005; Gozo Statement on Vulnerable Small States, 2005; Lake Victoria Commonwealth Climate Change Action Plan, 2007; Investing in Young People - A Declaration on young people by Commonwealth Heads of Government, 2009.


As an informal grouping, the Commonwealth has no statutory objectives. However, the Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, agreed 1971, Singapore (Singapore) and reaffirmed in the Harare (Zimbabwe) Commonwealth Declaration, 1991, sets out the fundamental political values underpinning the Commonwealth: democracy and good governance; respect for human rights and gender equality; the rule of law; sustainable economic and social development. Mission statement: work as a trusted partner for all Commonwealth people as: a force for peace, democracy, equality and good governance; a catalyst for global consensus-building; a source of assistance for sustainable development and poverty eradication. In general, aims are to: act as a bridge between races and religions and between rich and poor, enabling them to discuss common problems and work together for solutions; promote international peace and order, equal rights for all citizens and the liberty of the individual; oppose colonial domination and racial oppression; help to achieve a fairer global society. The common heritage shared by member states in many fields, including a common language, enables them to work together in an atmosphere of cooperation and understanding. The aims of the Secretariat are to: facilitate joint consultation and cooperation among member countries and collect and disseminate information for their use; organize meetings and conferences in areas of common concern and put into effect decisions for collective Commonwealth action.


2024-10-21 | Apia, Samoa – Biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

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Head is HM Queen Elizabeth II, with choice of successive Heads made collectively by Commonwealth leaders. F-XF3257 - Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) (every 2 years). Secretary-General; Deputy Secretary-General. Ministerial Action Group (CMAG); Board of Governors; Chair-in-Office. Secretariat. Divisions and Units (10): Communications and Public Affairs (CPAD); Corporate Services (CSD); Economic Affairs (EAD); Human Rights (HRU); Legal and Constitutional Affairs (LCAD); Political Affairs; Special Advisory Services (SASD); Strategic Planning and Evaluation (SPED); Social Transformation Programmes (STPD); Youth Affairs (YAD) - F-XF2059 - Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), including: K-XE2261 - Commonwealth Youth Programme South Pacific Regional Centre (CYP-SPRC); K-XK1177 - Commonwealth Youth Programme - Caribbean Centre (CYPCC); U-XK1176 - African Centre of the Commonwealth Youth Programme; K-XK1178 - Asia Centre of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP Asia Centre). Regular conferences include: S-XF0565 - Commonwealth Law Ministers' Meeting (CLMM); S-XS2308 - Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM); S-XS0067 - Commonwealth Women's Affairs Ministers Meeting (WAMM); S-XF5602 - Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM).


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Relations with Inter-Governmental Organizations

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Relations with Non-Governmental Organizations

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UN Sustainable Development Goals **

GOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions



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* Subject classification is derived from the organization names and aims.
** UN SDGs are linked to the subject classification.

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