The Establishment of the Secretariat

In 1965, the Commonwealth Secretariat was formed and a Secretary-General appointed. Senior staff were drawn from a wide range of Commonwealth countries and were instructed to discharge their functions impartially whatever their origin, and to place their loyalty in the Commonwealth as a whole. Every two years, the Commonwealth Heads of Government meet to discuss their problems and suggest possible solutions.

The establishment of the Secretariat shifted the Commonwealth from being dominated by Britain, to being a genuine multilateral institution. The Secretariat was given a mandate to support and facilitate the exchange of views among member countries on political and economic affairs and to work for and represent all member states equally. This was in order to help individual countries promote and pursue their own development, while also strengthening the understanding and the ties between them.

Member countries recognised that long-term co-operation needed to be based on a set of agreed principles which would provide a framework for avoiding or constructively settling disagreements. These principles emerged from the 1971 Heads of Government Meeting.