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Secretary-General Patricia Scotland

Friends of the Commonwealth Secretariat mark Commonwealth Secretariat’s 55th Anniversary at event in India

3 July 2020

The 55th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth Secretariat has been marked by supporters in India during a special virtual event.

Friends of the Commonwealth Secretariat gathered online to honour the Commonwealth and the role India played in its creation.

Secretariat's values

Addressing the event, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said although the world has fundamentally transformed since the Secretariat’s birth, values such as racial equality, individual liberty, democratic determination, world peace and international cooperation continue to be at the heart of the family’s values.

Speaking about the event, she said: ‘I am sure that I speak for present and former members of staff at the Secretariat to thank the Friends of the Commonwealth Secretariat for devising this imaginative way of acknowledging and paying tribute to all that has been and is being achieved through our work on behalf of our 2.4 billion people.

“Serving all member governments equally and impartially the Secretariat was to be a visible symbol of the spirit of co-operation, with core values of commitment to racial equality, individual liberty, democratic self-determination, eradication of economic inequality, world peace and international cooperation.‘’

Role of the Secretariat

As the principal intergovernmental body of the Commonwealth, the Secretariat provides the following to the governments and institutions of our 54 member states:

  • support on policy making
  • technical assistance
  • advisory services.

Speaking about the event being held in India, the Secretary-General said: “Your world-leading technology and innovation through to your industry and education system are all built on the foundation of a mature and vibrant democracy.‘’

India and the Commonwealth 

India became independent of the United Kingdom in 1947 but decided to remain a member of the Commonwealth. At a Commonwealth Prime Ministers meeting in London in 1949, the London Declaration said that republics and other countries could be part of the Commonwealth, resulting in the birth of the modern Commonwealth.

The decision to establish the Secretariat was taken at a later Commonwealth Prime Ministers meeting in London in 1964.

The virtual event was attended by peace advocates, scholars, top business leaders in India as well as Commonwealth High Commissioners and charitable and non-governmental organisations.