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How we are run

The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal countries.

Head of the Commonwealth

HM Queen Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth. The Head of The Commonwealth’s role includes a number of symbolic functions.

There is no maximum fixed term for the Head of The Commonwealth.

It is not a hereditary position. The choice of successive Heads will be made collectively by Commonwealth leaders.

The Commonwealth Secretariat

The Commonwealth Secretariat is the intergovernmental organisation which supports member countries to achieve the Commonwealth's aims.

Commonwealth Secretary-General

The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC is the Commonwealth Secretary-General.

The Secretary-General is responsible for representing the Commonwealth publicly, and is the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

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

The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC is from Dominica, and is the 6th Secretary-General since the post and the Commonwealth Secretariat were established in 1965.

Board of Governors

The Board of Governors approves the Commonwealth Secretariat’s plans and budgets. All member governments are represented on the Board of Governors, which meets once a year.

Commonwealth Chair-in-Office

The United Kingdom's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is the current Commonwealth Chair-in-Office.

The Chair-in-Office is the leader of the Commonwealth country that hosts a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The 2-year role comes into effect at the start of the CHOGM.

The Chair-in-Office voices Commonwealth positions at high-level international forums and reinforces the Good Offices role of the Commonwealth Secretary-General. The term ‘Good Offices’ refers to conflict prevention and resolution work carried out in Commonwealth countries.