Commonwealth High Level Group Reviews Governance

Commonwealth High Level Group Reviews Governance

The Commonwealth has set up a high level group to review the way the international organisation is governed, which met on February 13, 2018 in the Commonwealth headquarters at Marlborough House.

The Independent Secretariat of the High Level Group is made up of seven senior former ministers from the Commonwealth, including Chairman Anote Tong, the former President of Kiribati.

The other members are former British Energy Secretary Lord Howell, former Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill, former Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados Dame Billie Miller, former Nigerian Minister of Finance Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and former Deputy Prime Minister of Malta George Vella.

The group is independent of the Commonwealth Secretariat and will look at how the secretariat is governed and funded, how a new secretary-general is chosen, and the power balance between its executive committee and governors.

Despite reports to the contrary in the UK press, the issue of succession of the Head of the Commonwealth is not part of the Group’s mandate.

Her Majesty was proclaimed Head of the Commonwealth at her coronation in 1953, when she also became Head of State in several of its member countries.

The role is not hereditary and so will not automatically pass on to Prince Charles.

The Queen will turn 92 in April 2018 and is expected to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London in the same month, at which the group is expected to report on their discussions.

At the previous CHOGM in Malta in 2015, Commonwealth Heads of Government directed the then Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, to form the group.

The official decision about the successor to the Head of the Commonwealth will be made by the Heads of Government, though there is no formal process set out.

The Queen has indirectly endorsed Charles to succeed her through sending senior officials abroad to lobby Commonwealth leaders and having the Prince of Wales represent her at CHOGM in Sri Lanka in 2013.

At the last CHOGM in 2015, the Queen said she could not “wish to have been better supported and represented in the Commonwealth than by the Prince of Wales, who continues to give so much to it with great distinction", whilst the Prince’s website notes he has visited 41 out of the 53 member states and has been a “proud supporter” of the group of nations for over four decades.

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