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Commonwealth Secretary-General

The Commonwealth Secretary-General is responsible for:

  • promoting and protecting the Commonwealth’s values;
  • representing the Commonwealth publicly; and
  • the management of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Secretary-General is nominated by Commonwealth leaders and can serve a maximum of two four-year terms.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland (2016 - present)

On 27 November 2015, in Malta, the Commonwealth Heads of Government appointed The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC of Dominica as the first woman and the sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General. She assumed office on 1 April, 2016.


  • Patricia Janet Scotland was born on the 19th August 1955 in Dominica.
  • Moved to the UK with her family, growing up in east London.
  • Trained as a lawyer and became the first black woman to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1991. At 35 she was also the youngest woman ever to be made a QC.
  • The first black woman to be appointed Deputy High Court Judge, Recorder and Master of Middle Temple.
  • Joined the House of Lords in 1997 as Baroness Scotland of Asthal going on to serve as a minister in the Foreign Office, Home Office and Lord Chancellor’s Department.
  • Undertook major reform of the criminal justice system, including the introduction of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act.
  • Appointed Attorney General in 2007 – the first women to hold the post since it was created in 1315.
  • Founded the Eliminate Domestic Violence Global Foundation in 2011.
  • Appointed Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to South Africa in 2012.
  • Elected as the Alderman of Bishopsgate in the City of London in 2014.

Other offices include Chancellor of the University of Greenwich, Patron of the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence, Patron of Lifeline (Trinidad & Tobago) and the Caribbean Science Foundation.

Former Commonwealth Secretaries-General

  • Kamalesh Sharma of India (2008-2016)
  • Don McKinnon of New Zealand (2000-2008)
  • Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria (1990-2000)
  • Sir Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal of Guyana (1975-1990)
  • Arnold Smith of Canada (1965-1975)