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- Who is the Commonwealth Secretary-General?
- What are his duties?
The Secretary-General is responsible for representing the Commonwealth publicly; and for the management of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
He is charged with the development and delivery of the Strategic Plan – a four-year framework which sets out the Secretariat’s main goals and programmes.
Promoting and protecting the Commonwealth’s values is a core responsibility. The Secretary-General does so through regular high level contact with Commonwealth governments and civil society leaders, as well as through the media and public engagements. The Secretary-General also uses a low-key, personal and discreet ‘good offices’ approach in certain sensitive situations around the Commonwealth, and occasionally appoints Special Envoys.
- How is the Commonwealth Secretary-General elected?
The process by which Heads of Government select a new Secretary-General is unique. Candidates are nominated by governments in the months leading up to a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) when the post becomes vacant. A Restricted Session is held during the CHOGM, open only to Heads of Government and other Heads of Delegation with ministerial status. The Chair leads in determining which candidate has the greatest support amongst the 53 leaders, and may conduct one or more secret straw poll ballots to assist that process. Once a clearly supported candidate becomes apparent, the governments whose candidates are unsuccessful withdraw from the contest in order to achieve unanimous support by Heads for one candidate.
- How long can you be Commonwealth Secretary-General?
It was agreed at the 1993 CHOGM held in Cyprus that Secretaries-General would serve a maximum of two 4-year terms.
- How many Commonwealth Secretaries-General have there been? Who are they?
There have been four Commonwealth Secretaries-General, before the appointment of Kamalesh Sharma. They are:
Arnold Smith of Canada (1965-1975)
Sir Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal of Guyana (1975-1990)
Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria (1990-2000)
Don McKinnon of New Zealand (2000-2008)
- Who are the Deputy Secretaries-General and what do they do?
Mr Ransford Smith (Jamaica) and Ms Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba (Botswana).
They support the Secretary-General in the management and executive direction of the Secretariat. These three senior managers have supervisory responsibility for all divisions and other business units in the Secretariat.
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