Home >Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence in Malta
  • Small States Centre of Excellence - Our work

    The work of the Small States Centre of Exceleence falls under the following non-exhaustive areas.

  • Small States Centre of Excellence - Publications

    The Centre will collate and produce a number of research reports that will act as conduits for transmitting analytical findings, good practices, emerging trends, programme outcomes and meeting reports.

  • Small States Centre of Excellence - Events

    The Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence will support, coordinate and convene a number of events and platforms for distilling small states development challenges and priorities, including the identification of practical solutions to catalysing growth.


Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence in Malta

About us

The Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence is a predominantly web-based entity established to support and provide capacity to small states in their attainment of national and international development goals. The Centre is a joint initiative of the Government of Malta and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Based in Malta and with a coordinating office at the Secretariat in London, the Centre will have linkages across the world, primarily through the thirty-one small states of the Commonwealth

During the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), leaders welcomed Malta’s offer to establish a Small States Centre of Excellence (SSCoE) that will impart targeted capacity-building programmes and interventions in the areas of both democracy and development. Following the presentation of a feasibility report at the 2015 CHOGM, “Heads recognised the added value that the Centre would bring to small states through the promotion of their interests and the delivery of targeted capacity building programmes and other support. They encouraged member states to support the mobilisation of resources for the Centre.”

On 22 September 2015, the Government of Malta and the Commonwealth Secretariat signed a Host Country Agreement (HCA) for the establishment and operationalisation of the Centre. This was followed by the recruitment of a Technical Adviser to design and develop the operational architecture of the Centre.

The priority areas of the Centre for Small States’ development will include but are not limited to public debt management, natural disaster management and mitigation, broadband internet connectivity, diplomatic training, women and enterprise, and ocean governance. The Centre will also look into possible collaboration and synergies with the Commonwealth Trade Finance Facility and with the Malta Commonwealth Third Country Training Programme, as well as with other such programmes including in the areas of Public Administration and Management.


To become recognised as the primary virtual resource centre for small states seeking to meet the sustainable developmental needs of their populations on an equitable basis.


To facilitate knowledge exchange and capacity-building to help small states in the implementation of national and international development goals.  


The Centre of Excellence will seek to achieve the following objectives:

  • Facilitate targeted and predominantly internet-based capacity-building programmes in areas that benefit small states;
  • Serve as a focal point for sharing of best practices in areas that benefit small states;
  • Maintain links with development agencies, academia and other relevant organisations to further the interest of the Centre and the development of small states; and
  • Provide an information and referral service for academic and research work on small states, in partnership with institutions such as the University of Malta, including building and maintaining a repository of research information relevant to small states’ development.

Operating principles

In accordance with the Host Country Agreement, the SSCOE operates on the following principles:

  1. Employ the Value for Money (VfM) model to maximise the use of resources to achieve the objectives of the Centre, including the application of Results Based Management (RBM) tools.
  2. Capitalise and/or tailor information communications technology platforms for the efficient and effective operations of the Centre, including reaching target audiences in Small States.
  3. Engage experts who are recognised leaders in providing in situ capacity building solutions for Small States.
  4. Foster strategic partnerships, including but not limited to relevant United Nations organisations, multilateral organisations, regional organisations, other countries, academic organisations such as the University of Malta and Malta-based institutions, as well as other smalls states’ networks and hubs.
  5. User-led- the Centre’s activities and programmes will be based on needs and requests from beneficiaries/end users.
  6. Regional Champions – these will be identified to raise awareness and garner support.
  7. Regular consultations - with key user audiences/beneficiaries and strategic stakeholders to ensure that the Centre offers services and products that are up-to-date and relevant.
  8. Mirror SDG Model – to ensure that capacity constrained small states are not cumbered by new and complicated models of programme implementation.
  9. Targeted (Public Sector Officials) – it is important that the targeted beneficiaries are clearly defined to avoid duplication and enhance efficiency.


The Centre is guided by an Advisory Board selected to reflect geographical reach, gender balance, and other criteria deemed necessary by the Board. The Board consist of nine (9) members: the Chair of the Board, who is a representative of the Government of Malta; a representative of the Commonwealth Secretariat; one representative each from a small state in the African, Asian, Caribbean, European, and Pacific region; as well as two non-small state representatives from the eight Governments which are the major contributors to the overall resources of the various Funds of the Secretariat when the Board is constituted.

The purpose of the Board is to oversee the work of the Centre and provide direction to the Director on the basis of regular reports he/she shall provide to the Board on the operations of the Centre. The Board considers and approves the annual work plan, the budget and the audited accounts of the Centre s presented to the Board by the Director.

The Chair of the Board, on behalf of the Board members circulates an expression of interest for participation on the Board on a voluntary basis.  Board meetings are to be held virtually with the use of relevant information communications technology, with one Board meeting per year scheduled in Malta.  The term of the Board shall be for three (3) years.

The day to day management of the Centre is the responsibility of the Director.


The primary beneficiaries of this initiative are all the thirty-one (31) Commonwealth small states. To be specific, these are public service practitioners working on small states development, including civil servants, missions staff, country negotiators, permanent/principal secretaries, Ministers, etc. from the following countries:

African Small States

Caribbean Small States

Pacific Small States


Brunei Darussalam



The SSCOE works very closely with strategic partners that gives it the competitive advantage and an opportunity to access a broader range of resources and expertise. These partners offer our beneficiaries distinctive and updated skill sets and services through the most innovative means as follows:

  • Partner Institutions - sources of specialist knowledge and experts on Small States matters
  • Stakeholders Organisations - other entities with some focus on Small States issues

Partner institutions

Partner Institutions are fundamental to the success of the operations of the Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence (SSCOE). This is because in the start-up phase, the SSCOE does not have the resources to generate its own primary information on small states issues. As such, the Centre will depend on cultivating and maintaining good relationships with existing institutions who have considerable knowledge, expertise and information on Small States. The mutually beneficial relationship between SSCOE and Partner Institutions will involve, for example:

  1. converting selected information/knowledge (agreed by Institution) into part of the SSCOE digital library;
  2. referring User queries and individuals to the Partner Institution and/or their SS faculty/experts;
  3. providing real-time feedback or inputs to Partners from User Groups to improve existing services or formulate new ones; and
  4. jointly develop new knowledge products and services based on actual experience that may be considered "best practice".

Initially, these partners institutions will primarily be those Institutions based in Malta and/or form part of the Commonwealth network of resources (being relatively accessible and cost-effective). These institutions include, but not limited to:

  • University of Malta
  • International Maritime Law Institute
  • International Ocean Institute
  • University of the West Indies
  • University of the South Pacific
  • University of Mauritius

Stakeholder organisations

In addition to the Partner Institutions mentioned above, there are several global entities whose work includes some aspects of small states development. In order to have effective global reach and optimal, sustained engagement and best value for money, it is recommended that the SSCOE "virtual" operational model also includes a "real" regional approach; developing mutually beneficial working relationships with selected stakeholders.

These "intermediary" stakeholder organisations serve to:

  • refer prospective users to SSCOE;
  • raise awareness of the SSCOE; and
  • provide feedback loops of issues (and successes) on-the-ground in that region to share with others.

These organisations include, but are not limited to:

  • Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; SPC - Secretariat of the Pacific Community, SPREP
  • Caribbean Community (CARICOM), OECS, CDB
  • Indian Ocean Community
  • Southern African Customs Union (SACU)
  • The World Bank