What Is It?
Every two years, Commonwealth leaders meet at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and to agree on collective policies and initiatives.
Meetings of the Commonwealth
There has been a meeting of Commonwealth leaders since 1949. At the leaders meeting in Singapore in 1971, the term ‘Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was adopted to describe the unique gathering of Presidents and Prime Ministers.
At previous meetings, discussions and decisions have included majority rule and independence for Zimbabwe (Lusaka 1979); sanctions against South Africa and the encouragement of the end of apartheid (Nassau 1985, London 1986, Vancouver 1987, Kuala Lumpur 1989, Harare 1991); nuclear testing in the Pacific (Auckland 1995); and Zimbabwe’s suspension then departure from Commonwealth membership (Abuja 2003).
The Commonwealth Secretariat is headed by the Commonwealth Secretary-General who is appointed by Heads of Government for a maximum of two four-year terms.
The two Deputy Secretaries-General and one Assistant Secretary-General - who serve for a maximum of two three-year terms – support the Secretary-General in the management and executive direction of the Secretariat.
The Secretariat has 12 divisions and units which carry out programes of work based on mandates set by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their biennial summit (CHOGM). The responsibility for delivering these programes rests with specific divisions and units. The Secretariat currently employs around 275 full time staff from around three quarters of its 54 member states.
Meet Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.
*Fiji Islands was fully suspended from membership of the Commonwealth on 1 September 2009 pending restoration of a democratically elected government.