Farewell to Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma

22 March 2016

Kamalesh Sharma - Commonwealth Secretary-General: 1 April 2008 - 31 March 2016.

On 29 March 2016, a handsome portrait of Kamalesh Sharma was unveiled during a farewell reception at Marlborough House, London. Painted by artist Alastair Adams, the Secretary-General is portrayed seated, by a window in his office at Marlborough House.

Kamalesh Sharma became Commonwealth Secretary-General on 1 April 2008 having been appointed to the post by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their meeting in Kampala, Uganda, November 2007.

During his eight-year tenure as Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma has focused on the empowerment of young people, the advancement of women's political and economic rights and raising international awareness of challenges facing small states as pressing priorities.

Kamalesh Sharma has strengthened strategic relationships beyond the Commonwealth, notably with the G20 in association with La Francophonie, and modernised Commonwealth networking through contemporary information and communication technologies. He also oversaw the adoption of the Commonwealth Charter in 2012, which sets out the core values around which the Commonwealth unites.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General delivered his Valedictory Lecture: 'The Commonwealth - a greater global good' at the King's India Institute, King's College London on 30 March 2016. 

Kamalesh Sharma Valedictory speech at Kings College London

"As Commonwealth Secretary-General it has been my privilege in the past eight years to visit every one of our 53 member states. I have seen the attraction of the Commonwealth connection: the exceptional regard that it enjoys, and the sense of kinship and affinity that informs it. There is a bond within the Commonwealth that sets us apart." - Commonwealth Day Message, March 2016 

“In the end there is nothing that distinguishes the Commonwealth more than the fact that it leaves no-one behind, argues the case for leaving no-one behind, and fights for leaving no-one behind” - Opening remarks at the Commonwealth Youth Choir Commonwealth Week gala performance, at Marlborough House, March 2016

“As a values-based organisation, our Commonwealth attitude must always be of respect and understanding.” International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia Statement, May 2015

“Building resilience…is a primary Commonwealth focus; inclusivity is another. That is why in the Commonwealth’s global advocacy role with groupings such as the G20, we seek to be a voice expressing the concerns of those who do not have a seat at the table.” - Opening remarks at the Third Global Biennial Conference on Small States, St Lucia, March 2014

“Discrimination has no place in the modern Commonwealth” - Human Rights Day Statement, December 2014

“In the fast-moving and closely-connected world of today the contribution of young people to national development and the values of our societies, and the development of the Commonwealth globally, is pivotal” - Speech at the Commonwealth Youth Forum opening ceremony, November 2013

“Our Commonwealth priority continues to be providing practical support for women as agents of change in their struggles for equality and equity in democracy, development and inclusive diversity.” International Women's Day, March 2012

Farewell from the Commonwealth family 

Commonwealth Heads of Government 

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta in November 2015, Heads of Government “expressed their warm appreciation to the outgoing Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma. They commended his contributions to fostering a Commonwealth that is a strong and respected voice in the world; enlarging its networks, including through the ‘Commonwealth Connects’ collaboration platform; and sustaining its global relevance and profile. They paid tribute to his commitment to improving the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth.”

Rt Hon Hugo Swire, UK Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

“I should like to join in the tributes and thanks for the work of Kamalesh Sharma as he steps down as Secretary-General after eight years. I joined my Right Hon friend the Prime Minister at No. 10 [Downing St] last week to thank Mr Sharma personally for his efforts. He has helped to guide the Commonwealth through a period of significant challenges and he can be rightly proud of the important developments that have taken place under his leadership, such as the introduction of the Commonwealth Charter.” 

Arif Zaman, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network

Mr Zaman described Mr Sharma as “someone who has been a passionate, active and dedicated champion for women, combining advocacy with practical steps”.

Vijay Krishnarayan, Director, Commonwealth Foundation

“Secretary General, Thank you for your support to the Commonwealth Foundation both as a Governor and as an advocate for our work on participatory governance for development. I also thank you for your investment in Commonwealth accredited civil society organisations through the establishment of a focal point for them in your office. On a personal note I have enjoyed and benefitted from your counsel over the past eight years and I wish both you and Babli all the very best for the future.” 

Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta

“The outgoing Secretary General has done a very good job at providing leadership and introducing new initiatives during his tenure. We do thank Kamalesh Sharma for his unflinching commitment to the Commonwealth. His legacy will undoubtedly be a positive one.” - Opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta, 27 November 2015