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How we are run

The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal countries.

How countries can join the Commonwealth

Head of the Commonwealth

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth.

The role:

  • is an important symbolic one
  • has no maximum fixed term
  • is not hereditary, and future Heads will be chosen by Commonwealth leaders.

The Commonwealth Secretariat

The Commonwealth Secretariat is the intergovernmental organisation which supports member countries and co-ordinates Commonwealth activities.

Commonwealth Secretary-General

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

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

Board of Governors

The Board of Governors approves the Commonwealth Secretariat’s plans and budgets. Member governments are represented on the Board of Governors.

Commonwealth Chair-in-Office

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

The Chair-in-Office represents the Commonwealth at high-level international meetings and reinforces the Good Offices role of the Commonwealth Secretary-General. The term ‘Good Offices’ refers to the Commonwealth's conflict prevention and resolution work.

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 next CHOGM is in 2021 in Rwanda, when the Rwandan President Paul Kagame will become Chair-in-Office.