The COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT is the main intergovernmental agency and
central institution of the
Commonwealth of Nations
The Secretariat has observer status in the United Nations General
Assembly . It is located at
* 1 History * 2 Staff * 3 Headquarters * 4 See also * 5 Footnotes * 6 External links
The Secretariat was established by Heads of Government in 1965,
taking over many of the functions of the United Kingdom Government's
Commonwealth Relations Office , as part of a major shake-up of the
organisation of the Commonwealth. At the same time, the United Kingdom
succeeded in advocating the creation of the Secretariat's sister
Commonwealth Foundation was founded to foster
non-governmental relations and the promotion of the Commonwealth
Family network of civil societies. Other attempts by members to
create similar central bodies, such as a medical conference (proposed
The creation of the Secretariat itself was a contentious issue. The
United Kingdom and other long-established countries had hoped to slow
the tide of expansion of Commonwealth membership to prevent the
dilution of their traditional power within the Commonwealth
(particularly after the admission of
Earlier attempts at the formation of a central secretariat had been
made and failed. Australia had proposed the establishment four times
(in 1907, 1924, 1932, and 1944), whilst
The chief executive of the Secretariat, and of the Commonwealth as a whole, is the Commonwealth Secretary-General . All Secretariat staff report to the secretary-general, who is also responsible for spending the Secretariat's budget, which is granted by the Heads of Government . It is the secretary-general, and not the ceremonial Head of the Commonwealth , that represents the Commonwealth publicly. The secretary-general is elected by the Heads of Government at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings for terms of four years; previously, until 2000, a term was five years. The current Secretary-General is Dominica's Patricia Scotland , who replaced Kamalesh Sharma as Secretary-General on 1 April 2016.
The secretary-general is assisted by three deputy secretaries-general : one responsible for economic affairs (currently Deodat Maharaj), one for political affairs (Josephine Ojiambo), and one for corporate affairs (Gary Dunn). The secretary-general may appoint junior staff at his own discretion, provided the Secretariat can afford it, whilst the more senior staff may be appointed only from a shortlist of nominations from the Heads of Government. 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.
All members of staff are exempt from income tax , under the International Organisations Act 2005 , which redefined the legal status of the Secretariat.
The Secretariat is headquartered at
The Commonwealth Secretariat Act 1966 , which applied retroactively from the establishment of the Secretariat in 1965, first granted the organisation full diplomatic immunity . This has been subjected to a number of lawsuits challenging this, including _Mohsin v Commonwealth Secretariat_, and in 2005, _Sumukan Limited v Commonwealth Secretariat _. The 1966 Act had been interpreted by English courts as allowing the courts to exercise supervisory jurisdiction under the Arbitration Act 1996 over the Commonwealth's arbitration tribunal, which had been envisaged as the sole organ to arbitrate on matters related to the Secretariat's operations in the United Kingdom. In light of this interpretation, the Commonwealth Secretariat Act was amended by the International Organisations Act 2005 , which gave the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal the same legal immunity as the Secretariat itself, guaranteeing independence of the English courts.
* ^ "Commonwealth Secretariat". Commonwealth Secretariat. Retrieved 27 July 2007. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_