Commonwealth Secretariat – Written evidence (ZAF0053)




  1. What are the Commonwealth’s principal areas of activity in Sub-Saharan Africa?


Across Commonwealth Africa[1], which constitutes 19 member countries and 35% of the organisation’s membership, the Commonwealth has been working in three broad areas: promoting democracy, strengthening public institutions, access to justice and court transformation and countering violent extremism, youth participation in politics, and supporting inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. Notably, the fact that Africa is also the region from which the Commonwealth has received recent requests for membership demonstrates that the Commonwealth’s impact in Africa has not gone unnoticed.



  1. How is the Commonwealth contributing to the protection of the environment and tackling climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa?

We are supporting Africa to access international sources of climate finance to meet their priority adaptation and mitigation needs under our Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub (CCFAH) established in 2015. Countries such as Mauritius, Namibia, Zambia (and shortly Lesotho), have benefitted from the placement of dedicated national finance advisers and/or capacity building initiatives.

As of November 2019, the Hub had assisted member countries, including in Africa, to secure more than USD 30 million with more than USD 500 million of climate finance in the pipeline, in the form of 66 mitigation, adaptation and cross cutting projects in 12 countries. For instance, Mauritius was supported to mobilise over USD 2 million of climate finance in less than three years.

Africa benefits from other pan-Commonwealth climate tools such as the Climate Change Toolkit, which can assist countries in ensuring their legislative framework is adequate to respond to climate change.

In this area of work as in others, the relationship with Africa is mutually beneficial. For instance, when it comes to ocean governance, Africa is actively involved in the Commonwealth effort to collectively address shared challenges in ocean sustainability under the Commonwealth Blue Charter agreed by Heads of Government in London in 2018.

Thirty-nine countries, including several from Africa, have joined one or more of the Blue Charter Action Groups to date. Three African States are Champion countries for the Commonwealth Blue Charter:


In addition, a Blue Economy Roadmap developed for Seychelles has significantly informed the newly launched African Union Blue Economy Strategy.



  1. What is the Commonwealth doing to increase trade and economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa?


Commonwealth Africa benefits from technical support to enhance their participation in the rules-based multilateral trading system through dedicated trade advisers placed in the Commonwealth Small States office in Geneva. Moreover, the Secretariat organises an annual African Regional Consultation on Multilateral, Regional and Emerging Trade Issues, which assists African countries to prepare their regional negotiating positions ahead of WTO Ministerial Conferences, or to develop national trade policies and strategies. The Secretariat has also established an informal Commonwealth African Trade Negotiators Network of former trade officials and negotiators, which retains institutional memory and provides capacity support to African member countries. The Secretariat has prepared various capacity-building tools to assist African countries with their trade negotiations, such as policymakers’ handbooks on regional integration in Africa and digital trade and e-commerce. Africa is home to 33 of the world’s 47 LDCs and the Secretariat monitors implementation of international trade and development commitments to LDCs under the Istanbul Programme of Action.


Technical assistance and advisory services are also provided at the continental level, through the assignment of Trade Advisers to the African Union Commission. Advisers have supported the negotiation and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and are supporting the development of strategies that dove tail into the Boosting Intra Africa Trade (BIAT) Action Plan and AfCFTA. Support towards the establishment of an African Business Council to engage the private sector is ongoing.


When it comes to intra-Commonwealth trade, Africa members are  active participants in the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda (CCA) on Trade and Investment, which seeks to ensure that all Commonwealth countries can take advantage of the changes brought by the 4th Industrial Revolution by addressing the ecosystem for the development of their digital economy. South Africa co-chairs the Digital Connectivity Cluster, along with the United Kingdom, which takes the lead on developing e-commerce, digital trade and digitizing trade facilitation. We look forward to this work being continued under Rwanda, who as the next Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, will Chair the Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting and be responsible for driving forward Commonwealth co-operation on trade.


The Secretariat has supported the deepening of regional integration in Africa through working with the East African Community to deepen its Common Market by providing technical advice on how to ensure the development of its services sector and to support the movement of people in the southern Africa region through the Advanced Programme for Economic Integration.


At the national level, the Commonwealth supports African countries to establish and implement export diversification strategies and other trade regulatory policies to enhance their participation in global trade. Recognising the limited size of the domestic market in many African member countries and the opportunities that exist for increasing domestic productive output through value chain participation, innovation and technology adaptation, technical interventions are designed and deployed to member states to support their  trade competitiveness initiatives. For instance, support has been/is being provided to ten countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, the Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Seychelles, Mauritius and Cameroon) to develop export and e-commerce strategies and improve trade facilitation. Africa also benefits from trade and Investment facilitation support and other capacity building programs to assist countries accelerate the participation of their Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in global value chains.


The Secretariat also continues to supports trade initiatives among African member states aimed at increasing the participation of women and young people in global trade and to promote inclusivity in the design of trade policies that reflect the ambitions of member countries to achieve the SDGs for women and youth.



Debt Management


Africa has large financing requirements for development.  As per the UNCTAD[2] estimate, the incremental financing needs of the Africa region is about USD $614 billion–$638 billion per year[3] to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  At the current investment levels[4], annual funding gap faced by the African countries is up to USD $210 billion.  The budgetary resources alone cannot meet this vast development need of African countries and thus the sovereign debt financing becomes inevitable.


The institutional capacity to manage public debt, however, is weak in many sub- Saharan African countries.  The Secretariat through its debt management programme assists African member countries to strengthen institutional capacity in public debt management, to enable governments to finance their developmental requirements prudently and ensure that debt levels are maintained at sustainable levels over the medium to long term.  The programme is delivered through an integrated package of technical assistance involving policy advisory support and capacity-building activities to strengthen and reform debt management framework, policy and operations and provision of debt management system to enable governments to produce and publish reliable, comprehensive and timely information on the debt.  The production of reliable debt information is critical for accountability, transparency, and making informed borrowing decisions by the countries for prudent debt management and maintaining public debt at sustainable levels.


The Secretariat will continue to provide demand driven policy advisory support to the member sub-Saharan African countries on legal framework, institutional arrangements on public debt management, the formulation and implementation of debt management strategies, development of local currency debt markets, contingent liability management and restructuring and liability management operations.  Advisory assistance of the Secretariat has so far benefited a number of sub-Saharan African member countries including Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, and Mauritius in strengthening governance arrangement for public debt management, Sierra Leone and Swaziland in developing government bond market, Botswana and Kenya in formulation of Medium Term Debt Management Strategy and Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Seychelles in contingent liability management.   The Secretariat is also in the process of finalising an agreement with the World Bank, which will enable it to leverage its existing resources to deliver technical assistance to the member countries including African countries, in the area[5] of debt management.


The capacity building activities of the Secretariat in debt management will continue to be delivered through in-house developed eLearning courses[6] and also in collaboration with its long term strategic regional partners in Africa, viz., the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI)[7] and the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM)[8].


With a view to enabling member countries to record and manage their debt database more efficiently, the Secretariat has recently launched a state –of the art software system ‘Commonwealth Meridian’ and is currently working with member countries to replace its existing software system Commonwealth Secretariat Debt Recording and Management System (CS-DRMS).  In Africa, the Secretariat is currently working with four (4) African countries, viz., Mauritius, Lesotho, Ghana and The Gambia to implement Commonwealth Meridian.  By 2021/22 the Secretariat will roll out Commonwealth Meridian in all the remaining Commonwealth Countries that use the CS-DRMS bringing to a total 16 African countries[9]. The countries that currently use CS-DRMS in Africa are Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Gambia, Seychelles, Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Kenya, Swaziland, Lesotho, Tanzania, Malawi.  Implementation of Commonwealth Meridian will assist member countries to produce comprehensive and reliable debt statistics in a timely manner, which is essential for effective and prudent public management.


With the COVID-19 pandemic various international organizations have responded by providing relief to member countries in managing their debt burdens; the IMF has approved relief on debt service for member countries that are eligible for support from the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT); the World Bank has championed a moratorium on debt service payments, the G20 announced that official bilateral creditors will allow the IDA[10] countries that request forbearance to suspend repayment starting on May 2020.  The Secretariat is now in the process of preparing guidelines on how countries can use the Secretariat’s debt management system to identify ideal ‘candidate’ instruments in their portfolio and maximise the benefit of such a moratorium and more importantly preventing and resolving unsustainable debt situations in the aftermath of COVID-19.



Considering the foreseeable effects of the COVID19 devastating pandemic, the Secretariat has launched a law reform programme COBULRI (COVID19 Business Law Response Initiative) across the 54 member countries, with a particular emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa. The project advises countries on innovative and rapid response mechanisms and law reforms for emergency situations to save lives and livelihoods. With the support and assistance of some reputable London-based law firms, experts have looked, inter alia, into matters related to insolvency, listed and unlisted companies, AGMs/Shareholder meetings, dividends, takeovers, employment, corporate financing, equity financing, takeover regulations, data protection, antitrust considerations, real estate, remote witnessing as well as rules of civil procedure and procedural rules of courts and tribunals in relation to dispute settlements.



  1. How does the Commonwealth contribute to democracy, governance and the rule of law in the region?




Since 1991, 12 Commonwealth’s African member countries have transitioned to multi-party democracy from military or one-party rule supported by the Commonwealth’s election observation, electoral support and quiet diplomacy. The latter has been supported by the Secretary-General’s Good Offices, or engagement with the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). 


Notably, of the 145 elections observed across the Commonwealth to date, an estimated 60% have been in Commonwealth Africa. The recommendations from election observation reports have often contributed to improved elections in member countries, including through Commonwealth political and technical support throughout the electoral cycle.



Beyond supporting political processes in Africa, the Commonwealth helps to bolster governance institutions. In the area of anti-corruption for instance, since 2013 the Secretariat and Botswana have strengthened the capacity of 19 Anti-Corruption agencies in Africa through the Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Centre based in Botswana.

National Anti-Corruption agencies directly supported through targeted capacity building include: Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Nigeria, Mauritius, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Seychelles, South Africa and Ghana.

Similarly, the Commonwealth has a track record of strengthening National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). NHRIs in the following countries have been supported: eSwatini; Ghana; Cameroon; Malawi; Kenya; Namibia and Seychelles.


Rule of Law

Under the Cyber Declaration agreed by Heads of Government in London in 2018 member countries are being supported to strengthen their capacity to investigate cybercrime; reinforce elections cybersecurity; develop operational cooperation in dealing with cross border offences; process and share electronic evidence; and review cyber legislation.

In Africa, the Commonwealth Secretariat undertook comprehensive reviews of the cyber resilience capabilities in Ghana, Namibia and Kenya, and made recommendations as to the most appropriate legislative response in line with Commonwealth and International best practice. The review also identified key areas that should be improved to provide an effective response to cyber threats.

A similar effort is underway in the area of cybersecurity and elections. An upcoming Commonwealth Cybersecurity and Elections Guide will be of benefit to election management body and other relevant stakeholders in Commonwealth Africa.

Other areas of work through which the Commonwealth promotes the rule of law in Africa include assistance to countries in legislative drafting and law reform through training and drafting bills; judicial education, including on emerging issues such as Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) where a case law handbook has been developed for the East Africa sub-region.


Access to Justice


Access to justice demands a functioning court system. The COVID-19 pandemic has paralysed justice systems across the world. The modernisation and digitisation of the justice system is no longer a luxury or whim. It is a must, an imperative to future economic growth and social success. Only a working judiciary will operationalise the rule of law, prevent mass migrations and ultimately allow sustainable financial investment and growth. The ability of governments to provide real and meaningful access to justice for its citizenry requires substantive reforms to the current rules of procedure and to technicalities that stymie effective justice.


A comprehensive effort to redesign the justice system in Sub-Saharan has been undertaken. It aims at addressing concrete changes to build an appropriate legal framework, new laws, civil and criminal procedural codes, arbitration mechanisms or to amend existing ones to align processes that embrace digital and user friendly technologies beyond simply digitising court records and procedures. 


Countering Violent Extremism


The Secretariat’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme supports member countries to improve their understanding of national gaps and strengths, and to implement CVE policy and programming that enhances their capacity for managing CVE threats effectively. The programme also provides training and support for youth and civil society organisations to strengthen their knowledge and skills to counter violent extremism.


The Commonwealth Secretariat CVE Unit was established in 2017 with funding received from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Her Majesty’s Government (for the period 2016 – 2021) and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Our efforts in Africa, with a focus on Tanzania, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda have focused on developing CVE capacity for Police Forces, Prison Services, Telecommunications Authorities (related to the threat of terrorist use of the internet), Youth and Gender Ministries, Youth and Women’s Civil Society Organisations and religious communities and organisations.  The Commonwealth Secretariat CVE Unit also provides training on CVE for civil society organisations, religious youth and women’s organisations on strategies for preventing and countering violent extremism.


For example, from 2017-2020, the Commonwealth Secretariat has worked intensively with the Tanzanian Police Service to build capacity to implement new community policing measures to counter violent extremism. With support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Tanzanian Police Service has incorporated a new CVE and community policing training module that will be rolled out nation-wide.


The priority over the next year is to deepen existing country support and expand the programme’s reach to additional African countries where the threat of violent extremism continues to grow rapidly, and where the capacity of government authorities and civil society organisation to address these issues remains low or non-existent. In Tanzania, the Secretariat will deliver the final phase of the multi-year CVE community policing initiative.  In Cameroon, the Secretariat is providing capacity building support to enhance gender-sensitive and youth-sensitive approaches to CVE.  The Secretariat will also deliver a regional symposium on preventing terrorist use of the Internet for policymakers, regulators, tech sector and civil society.



  1. What are the priorities for the Commonwealth over the next year, ahead of the next summit?


In the financial year 2020/2021 the Commonwealth Secretariat will continue to work with member countries to achieve common goals as laid out in the Commonwealth Charter and the Commonwealth Strategic Plan 2017/2018 – 2020/2021. In particular, in the Africa region, the Secretariat will partner with member countries and other organisations, to deepen the above priority work areas on democracy, public institutions, social and economic development, and the environment.

Africa will continue to benefit from the new mandates provided by Heads of Government in 2018, including on Cyber, the Blue Charter, the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda on Trade and Investment, court transformation, and the Revised Guidelines on Election Observation, which underpins our holistic approach of engaging with countries throughout the electoral cycle.

The next CHOGM in Rwanda provides a critical opportunity to strengthen our delivery of these public goods to our Commonwealth citizens. We will build on the progress achieved so far, while using innovation and technology to deepen our connections and transform our economics and societies, ensuring that women, young people and the most vulnerable in our societies fully participate and benefit from progress.

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has brought to the fore in the most deadly and disruptive manner, the airtight inter-connectedness of our economies across all our regions. The Commonwealth, like all other international organisations, will be reflecting on how we strengthen and sharpen our response to address critical global challenges on health, the climate crisis and terrorism, among others, to ensure that Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific stay on course to meeting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.











Three Years of Reform and Results





Executive Summary

This informal report presents results of a three-year reform journey. It is in continuation of my dialogue. You may recall the paper on Reform that was presented to Foreign Ministers in 2017 in New York. I must thank you right at the outset for your continued trust, guidance and support. This journey has been difficult yet rewarding. The turnaround is visible now, and results contained in this report tell a story of success that the Commonwealth has achieved together.


Today, Commonwealth is a vibrant network of member states, organisations and 2.4 billion people. I am pleased that member states are championing its cause. Trade Connectivity agenda champions and the Blue Charter action groups are glaring examples, where member states are leading the work themselves. CHOGM and Ministerial meetings are better planned and delivered now. Election Observations are no more an end but means to building sustainable democratic institutions. The Commonwealth organisations are galvanised. They are having a regular dialogue with me, participating in high level meetings, and delivering together with the Secretariat colleagues. Remember, this was just a dream a few years ago.


You may recall, my reform strategy started with a new Strategic Plan. I wanted it much more focused, inclusive, SDG-oriented, and reflective of the Commonwealth Charter. It was delivered in record time. I promised a Delivery Plan to make planning and delivery more adaptive and transparent. It was hailed by the Board of Governors. The reorganisation of the Secretariat was a daunting task. My aim was making the Secretariat lean, joined-up, efficient and interoperable. As a result of restructuring, we now have three directorates rather than ten divisions. They are delivering together. You will be pleased to learn that gender parity in staff was achieved earlier this year. The Secretariat now has 53 percent female and 47 percent male staff.


The massive reform had some adverse effects on our programme delivery. We did our best to minimise that impact. We continue to deliver CHOGM mandates. The Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub has done wonders by producing 30 times return on investment. The Small States Centre in Malta is fully operational and providing capacity building support to member states. The Trade Finance Facility has been established. It is expected that Commonwealth small states will have access to up to US$ 300 million of incremental trade finance over a three-year period. The Joint Commonwealth Office in New York and Commonwealth Small States Office in Geneva have been moved to new premises. They are providing fabulous support to member states.  New departments of Partnerships, Innovation, and ICT have been established. New programmes such as Countering Violent Extremism and Faith in the Commonwealth have shown amazing results. The Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform is up and running, and so is the Commonwealth Innovation Hub including its data platform and a number of other digital initiatives.  


Today, we are more prudent and efficient. I have 22 percent less staff than 2016 and 27 percent less money in CFTC. I am, however, proud that my team and I are delivering much more than what was being delivered then.  The introduction of new IT systems and processes has enabled us to publish our project data on International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) website. All CFTC spending above UK£ 500 is published on our website. Our annual results, audit, and evaluation reports as well as management responses are available on our website. We use 13 percent less energy today as compared to 2016. The use of plastic bottles has been banned in the Secretariat.


The reform has made us more transparent, collaborative and visible. I have kept the Board of Governors informed of this reform and also of the gains of efficiency savings. We have signed 32 Memoranda of Understanding with member states, Commonwealth associations, regional and international mechanisms and private sector and philanthropic organisations in the last three years. Through these partnerships we are doing amazing things. We are training UN leaders on systemic approaches to Sustainable Development, and will soon be the preferred delivery partner of the UN system in Commonwealth countries. Private sector organisations are providing support through their philanthropic departments to deliver on our Strategic Plan and in line with the partnerships strategy endorsed by the Board of Governors. I am pleased to say that our visibility in the mainstream media has gone up 300 percent in the last three years. There has been more than 500 percent rise in the Facebook following. Our work on collating and digitising data has made it possible that 95% percent of Commonwealth Observer Group reports are now online. I shall stop here as the time is limited. I shall however say, stay tuned - More good news is on its way.

Governance and Peace



  1. Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform was established in 2017 as a focal point for all Secretariat law reform work. The public website of the Office ( ) was launched in September 2017. The Office makes available good legislation practices from across the Commonwealth through model laws, standards, toolkits, templates, legal insight, and legal networks. It provides public access to all Commonwealth model laws and legal tools, as well as legal knowledge publications and details of Commonwealth legal networks and delivers technical assistance to member countries based on these resources. A high-level panel of distinguished Commonwealth legal experts informs the Office. 


  1. In 2016, the Secretariat disseminated information on Pan-Commonwealth data protection laws through a contribution to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) publication, ‘Data Protection Regulations and International Data Flows.’ The report is available at


  1. Development of the Commonwealth Cyber Declaration to provide member countries a comprehensive approach to tackling the threats of cybercrime taking into account human rights norms and international best practice.


  1. Development of templates and guidance notes to assist member countries in the recovery and management of recovered stolen assets – Nigeria in particular benefitted tremendously from this technical assistance.


  1. Development and launch of the Commonwealth Judicial Bench Book on Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) in East Africa in June 2016, as the first to be developed in the Commonwealth with a focus on VAWG. The Bench Book was launched by the Secretary-General (S-G) at the 11th Women Affairs Ministerial Meeting (11WAMM) in Apia, Samoa in September 2016, as a benchmark across the Commonwealth. A case law handbook based on the bench-book has been developed and is expected to be launched at the 12 WAMM in Nairobi, Kenya [please also see Gender]. 


  1. In 2017, a law reform guide and legislative drafting manual were developed by the Secretariat. The Commonwealth Law Reform Guide is a joint product of the Secretariat and the Commonwealth Association of Law Reform Agencies (CALRAs), while the Commonwealth Legislative Drafting Manual was developed in close collaboration with the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel (CALC). Both publications were launched at the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting in 2017.


  1. Repositioning of the Commonwealth Network of Contact Persons (CNCP) to make it more proactive and relevant to the needs of fluent and effective international co-operation in the contemporary world within the Commonwealth. In 2016 and 2018, the Secretariat convened two plenary meetings with a view to reinvigorating the network in the performance of its role.


  1. In a bid to address gender discriminatory legislation, the Secretariat in March 2019, in collaboration with UN Women, the World Bank and other institutions launched a strategy aimed at levelling the law by 2030. The Strategy on Levelling the Law for Women and Girls by 2030, serves as the implementation framework for the Roadmap for Substantive Equality: 2030, which was launched by UN Women, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Equality Now as a joint initiative in 2017 with a primary objective of ensuring that discrimination in law is eliminated in every country by 2030 [please also see Gender].


  1. Holding a successful meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers in October 2017 attended by delegations from 31 Commonwealth countries, which achieved consensus on issues such as sustainable development, countering violent extremism and climate change.


  1.                    An EBR of £ 438,000 was obtained from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to launch a project on conventional arms control in the Commonwealth. The project includes the development of a web platform, the publication of a guide on firearms legislation in the Commonwealth, a Wilton Park conference on small arms diversion in the Commonwealth and various side events in the margins of the meetings of international mechanisms.





  1.                    Facilitated The Gambia’s successful membership process - re-joined February 2018.


  1.                    Facilitated the Commonwealth’s participation at the signing of Peace Pledges ahead of elections in Ghana and Nigeria.


  1.                    Revised the Commonwealth Guidelines for the Conduct of Election Observation in Member Countries. This revision is the first update in 27 years and responded to developments in elections and election observation. The new Guidelines were adopted at CHOGM 2018.


  1.                    Through her Good Offices, the S-G contributed to the de-escalation of post-election tensions in Zambia in 2016/7. This engagement, led by a Special Envoy, further contributed to the initiation of a planning process for a home-grown multi stakeholder dialogue in Zambia.


  1.                    Deployed 17 Commonwealth Observer Groups and four staff teams to assess and report on the conduct of elections, and responded to requests for technical assistance where received. This work has been supported in a significant part by UK EBR in 2018 and 2019.


  1.                    Supported the establishment of the Nauru Electoral Commission in 2016.


  1.                    Provided support to the S-G during the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Summit held in Samoa in 2017.  One of the key outcomes from the S-G’s participation at the Summit is the follow-up work to the Papua New Guinea Commonwealth Observer Group recommendations, which has seen a Commonwealth technical expert deployed to assist the PNGEC with their electoral reform programme. 


  1.                    Capacity building workshops and training: since 2017, the Commonwealth Election Professionals Initiative has held training events for the Pacific, Africa and Caribbean and Americas regions, reaching forty-nine elections professionals from thirty-eight Commonwealth election management bodies. This project is funded by an Australian EBR.


  1.                    In response to the CHOGM 2018 mandate to strengthen the S-G’s Good Offices and establish and strengthen national peace and dialogue processes, the following were among outputs achieved:
        1. A sub-regional experience-sharing workshop in Accra, Ghana to strengthen and sustain dialogue structures in western Africa Member States.
        2. Convened conflict sensitivity and political skills ‘training of trainers’ workshop for female candidates in Malawi ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
        3. Developed a partnership with UNOSSC to support south-south peacebuilding efforts in Commonwealth small states, following which two consultations with member states were convened. The first in-country output was a regional forum on Women and Youth Participation in Community Dialogue: South-South approach for Peace and Security in the Caribbean, which will inform the establishment of community dialogue structures in St Kitts and Nevis.
        4. Under Australian EBR funding, capacity building technical assistance was provided to Malawian Civil Society Coalitions (50:50 Campaign) on Violence Against Women in Politics and Election(VAW-E). Broad stakeholder consultations were also undertaken in Jamaica in support of the Office of the Political Ombudsman capacity to encourage dialogue among political actors and promote civil political utterances.
        5. In the lead up to the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM) held in Uganda (July/August 2017), the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth and Political Divisions collaborated to deliver a capacity building programme on leadership. The Commonwealth Young Parliamentarians Leadership Programme for East Africa in March 2017 provided training and technical support to young MPs from the sub-region to strengthen their ongoing work in their respective parliaments. 


  1.                    The following knowledge products have been produced and are assisting member countries to strengthen their elections and political processes. These include:
  1. The Compendium of Commonwealth Good Practice on Election Management (2016)
  2. Good Electoral Practice Guides on Incumbency, Voter Registration, New Media and Election Management Body Independence (2016)
  3. Gender Checklist on inclusive elections (2017)
  4. A Handbook for Gender-inclusive Elections in Commonwealth Africa (2018)
  5. Women and Political Parties in Five Small States of the Commonwealth Caribbean (2018)
  6. Political Parties and Women’s Political Participation in Commonwealth Africa (2018)



  1.                    In April and May 2019, we provided technical assistance to Dominica for its third cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR). This included in-country training and advice on compiling its national report, preparing Government for its engagement with the UPR Working Group, and technical advisory and logistical support during the review in Geneva. Dominica successfully completed its UPR in May 2019. Similar in-country support was provided to The Gambia in March 2019 and Grenada in April 2019. Technical assistance and logistical support will be provided to both countries in Geneva when they complete their UPRs later in this financial year.  In May 2018, we provided support to the Tuvalu delegation for its Universal Periodic Review in Geneva. Our financial support allowed Tuvalu to send a larger delegation to Geneva, exposing additional officials to the Geneva-based human rights machinery.


  1.                    Technical and financial support was provided to the Ombudsman of Samoa [the only NHRI in the Pacific islands fully accredited under the Paris Principles] for its national inquiry into family violence, the first such inquiry to be undertaken by a Pacific NHRI. The support began in September 2016 and is ongoing. As a result of the inquiry, the Prime Minister acknowledged the grave impact that family violence has had in Samoa and committed to taking action to implement the report’s recommendations. Following the launch of the inquiry report in 2018, we delivered a capacity building workshop for human rights staff at the Ombudsman, focusing on best practice to influence and engage key stakeholders for the purpose of implementation of the report’s recommendations. Also, technical advisory and capacity building support to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. This support helped it to regain its ‘A’ status from the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, after being downgraded to ‘B’ in 2009. Sri Lanka is now the 3rd Commonwealth Asia member state with a NHRI fully compliant with the Paris Principles. In February 2019, technical expertise and financial support was provided to the Ombudsman of Namibia to deliver a roundtable on sexual and reproductive health and rights; and a roundtable on sexual orientation and gender identity. The roundtables brought together government, parliaments, academia, civil society, faith leaders and human rights defenders to hold a national dialogue on these sensitive and challenging human rights issues. Subsequently, the First Lady of Namibia, in June 2019, has invited one of our technical resource persons for the roundtable.


  1.                    Technical advisory services are being provided to the Governments of Grenada and Belize for the establishment of their national human rights institutions. Both small states made commitments and accepted recommendations under their UPRs to establish these institutions.


  1.                    During 2016 -2018, we supported the Bahamas and Fiji in their candidacies for Human Rights Council membership through technical advisory and co-partnership of advocacy events in Geneva and New York. Both became the first small states from their regions to be elected members of the Council.



  1.                    Established The Unit in January 2017 and developed a new strategy and Programme of Work for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) within the Commonwealth which also identified four key Commonwealth Member Countries which formed the foundation of the Secretariat’s efforts to build a sustainable P/CVE practice within the Commonwealth.


  1.                    The Unit carried out successful scoping visits to all four Identified Countries of initial interest and has established a working understanding with each for the delivery of technical assistance and capacity building on P/CVE and related issues.


  1.                    The Commonwealth is now a credible partner on P/CVE issues, building strong relationships with leading international think tanks and researchers such as RUSI and Hedayah and implementers such as the United Nations, UNDP, GCTF. We successfully incorporated the capacity and skills available within Commonwealth Partner Organisations such as the Commonwealth Foundation, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation and the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association.


  1.                    Successfully launched a series of programmes (Portraits of the Caribbean, The No Hate Speech Project, Faith in The Commonwealth, The Commonwealth Youth Dialogue, Student Respect and Leadership programme) in cooperation with the Youth Division, the Education Division, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Royal Commonwealth Society, aimed at empowering young people and to encourage the development of resilience, inter faith and inter cultural dialogue as a tool to prevent and counter the spread of violent extremist narratives and hate speech.


  1.                    Successfully launched a programme of training prison officers in the implementation of sustainable international best practices for managing violent extremist offenders in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.


  1.                    Successfully championed the establishment of a specialist government unit in Trinidad and Tobago comprising a broad range of government officials to manage the return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and their families. Also provided training and capacity building for this unit, as well as, civil society stakeholders in Trinidad and Tobago with technical assistance from the UK and Kenya.


  1.                    Successfully launched an integrated Community Policing Training programme for Police Training Academies in Tanzania aimed at providing a foundation of expertise that will allow the training of new police recruits in the fundamentals of community policing methodologies and P/CVE.


  1.                    Provided resilience and community engagement training for women civil society stakeholders in Cameroon and Trinidad and Tobago designed to highlight the role of women in preventing and countering violent extremism and in building the necessary capacity to train other women in town and villages across the country on how they can play a role in building peace in vulnerable communities.


  1.                    In partnership with Hedeyah, the UNDP, the Tony Blair Foundation and the Club de Madrid, we launched a P/CVE in Education initiative designed to build better understanding among educators of the phenomenon of violent extremism and the impact it has on young and vulnerable youths in the education environment. The workshops also emphasise approaches and strategies for identifying vulnerable youth and for guiding them to successful counter narratives and sustainable P/CVE best practices.


  1.                    Established a global Commonwealth P/CVE think-tank consisting of a cadre of experts from across the Commonwealth to support our work.


  1.                    Taken on the additional mandate of Preventing Terrorist Use of the Internet following CHOGM 2018. The team has already begun its work supporting member countries in building their CVE capacity in this area including partnering with the Global Internet Forum for Counter Terrorism and key internet platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.


  1.                    We are actively supporting a small states perspective being brought into global initiatives to develop guidelines and protocols, including PTUI and managing people returning from terrorist conflicts by supporting the participation of such small states in global for a such as the GCTF.






  1.                    In 2016, the Secretariat convened the Commonwealth Tackling Corruption Together conference which attracted international community leaders and put anti-corruption on the global agenda.


  1.                    2017- The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Centre in Botswana (CAACC) is a flagship project provides a visible and tangible demonstration of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s commitment to support its members’ anti-corruption efforts. An independent evaluation conducted by PFM-Connect in 2017 on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat found that “Commonwealth member states have benefited significantly from the programmes, and tangible capacity improvements have been realised by the Anti-Corruption Agencies”. The survey responded to by 65 Anti-Corruption Agency representatives found that: at least 80% considered CAACC courses had significantly expanded their knowledge; and at least 70% reported significant improvement in their ability to perform their current roles; At least 68% reported making significant changes in their work after returning from CAACC courses. According to Mr. Lucas Kondowe, Chair, Association of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa, and Director-General, Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau, “The Centre is the only avenue dedicated for systematic and quality capacity building available to Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa.” (Malawi, May 2017).


  1.                     Based on the success of the Commonwealth Africa Heads of Anti-Corruption Association, the Secretariat established the Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Caribbean region in 2016 to provide a unique forum for sharing experiences, good practices and benchmarking country efforts in the fight against corruption and the promotion of good governance in the Caribbean region. In 2017, the Secretariat partnered with the Government of Grenada, the Integrity Commission and the Ministry of Public Administration to establish a Regional Training Centre of Excellence in Grenada, to enable the Secretariat to build the capacity of Commonwealth Caribbean Anti-Corruption, Integrity Commissions and Public Sector agencies. The Prime Minister of Grenada, the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, generously said: “I thank the Commonwealth for the technical assistance it has given to Grenada in particular and the Caribbean in general and look forward to the promotion of Grenada as centre of excellence in anti-corruption work in the Caribbean.”


  1.                    Winner of 2018 International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award: In recognition of the Secretariat’s governance and Anti-Corruption work around the world, Dr Koranteng, the Governance and Anti-Corruption lead at the Secretariat was chosen a proud winner of 2018 Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award - Innovations. This prestigious award recognises persons who have not only demonstrated commitment to the prevention of corruption, but also their dedication to the sustainable development agenda of the United Nations.  The Award is presented annually on International Anti-Corruption Day (9th December) in recognition and appreciation to those whom have contributed to the global campaign against corruption. The Award recognises individuals and organisations whom have dedicated themselves to combat corruption internationally.  Dr. Koranteng was presented with a clean and open hand golden trophy, a certificate and a prize-money of $125,000.00.



Economic, Youth and Sustainable Development



  1.                    Vulnerability and Resilience Work - The Commonwealth Secretariat has continued its research and advocacy on measuring the vulnerability of small states and strategies for building resilience.  Key achievements include:
  1. Resilience Profiling in Africa, Pacific and Caribbean
  2. Caribbean Vision 2050
  3. Pacific Vision 2050
  4. Collaboration with development partners to agree a universal economic vulnerability index


  1.                    Consensus Building - The Secretariat has used its convening power to bring together member states to discuss common development challenges and emerging solutions.  Some flagship meetings in the past 3 years have included:
  1. 4th Global Biennial Conference on Small States – Seychelles 2016
  2. 5th Global Biennial Conference on Small States – Samoa 2019
  3. Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
  4. Commonwealth Central Bank Governors Meeting 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019


  1.                    Increasing access to development finance- A number of projects focused on helping member states to improve their access to development finance.  Key programmes include:
  1. Diaspora Investment Programme – survey reports and research
  2. Disaster Finance Programme – development of disaster finance toolkit and research
  3. Commonwealth Fintech Programme – development of Fintech toolkit
  4. Innovating on Debt and Development


  1.                    Small States Regulatory Challenges – We have been working to raise awareness of the regulatory challenges facing small states with the aim of encouraging dialogue between the regulators and the regulated.  Key programmes include:
  1. International Taxation and IFC’s work programme
  2. Advocacy on de-risking challenge
  3. Advocacy on remittance pricing


  1.                    Capacity Building through the Small States Centre of Excellence in Malta. Key training and capacity building activities include - 
  1. Negotiation and skills training for Commonwealth Diplomats in New York
  2. Government Performance Management Workshop
  3. Commonwealth Research Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction


  1.                    Research and Knowledge Sharing – We have produced regular economic development research and publications including:
  1. Small States: Economic Review and Basic Statistics, Vols 18, 19, 20
  2. Small States Digest
  3. Small States Matters
  4. Economic Working Papers




  1.                    Produced policy guidance, an international indicator framework and implementation toolkits to measure and enhance the contribution of sport-based policy and programmes to the Sustainable Development Goals that have been adopted or endorsed at multiple UN and regional intergovernmental platforms.


  1.                    Provided direct technical assistance to seven member countries to develop national policy instruments to enhance the contribution of sport to sustainable development. This has resulted in ring-fenced budgeting on sport for social inclusion in the last two national budgets of Mauritius, the adoption by Botswana of the first ever national gender mainstreaming in sport plan in Africa and the inclusion of Sport for Development pillars and resourcing in the national policy of Zambia. Bangladesh, Jamaica, Lesotho and Saint Kitts and Nevis are currently committed to revising national policies and measurement frameworks on sport and the SDGs.


  1.                    Trained over 300 public officials and national stakeholders to better use sport as a tool for sustainable development and building peaceful and cohesive societies.


  1.                    Elevated to global advisory bodies on protecting and promoting the contribution of sport to sustainable development and human rights including those under the auspices of UNESCO, UNICEF, International Paralympic Committee and the International Centre of Sport and Human Rights.




  1.                    Faith in the Commonwealth: Promoting Global Citizenship (GCED) and Religious Literacy.  Through this externally funded project developed Youth Training of Trainers toolkit and trained 132 young leaders from 8 Commonwealth countries who have delivered 501 social action activities and reached over 20,000 participants.  These social action activities have been broadly in three categories: social cohesion, global citizenship, and interfaith and/or intercultural activities.


  1.                    Commonwealth Education Policy Framework: Have developed and rollout the Framework in 13 member countries involving 3 from the Pacific region and 10 from the Southern African region. Participating countries have developed action plans and have started taking actions to strengthen their education governance and education systems capacity and overall planning processes in relation to progressing towards SDG4.


  1.                    20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (20CCEM):  Delivered 20CCEM in Fiji (2018), under the theme of ‘Sustainability and Resilience: Can Education Deliver’.  The discussion on this theme led by Ministers and Delegates from 34 countries was divided into three sub-themes:  education for sustainable development, building resilience through education, and education governance and management.  At the end of the meeting the Ministers issued a Declaration covering all key items within the theme and sub-themes. The Secretariat working with the members of Technical Working Group have developed an action plan to enable taking forward and follow-up on actions.





  1.                    Published the Judicial Bench Books for Ending Violence Against Women and Girls for the Asia Pacific, and East African regions. 


  1.                    Convened the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers’ Meeting in Samoa, at which the four Commonwealth Priorities for Gender Equality were agreed to:
  1. Women’s Economic Empowerment
  2. Women in Leadership
  3. Ending Violence Against Women and Girls
  4. Gender and Climate Change. 


  1.                    Technical assistance to Bahamas, Seychelles, Namibia on gender equality & women’s empowerment.


  1.                    Held the second Commonwealth Women’s Forum on the margins of the 2018 CHOGM.


  1.                    Launched publications on Women’s Participation in Political Parties for the Africa and Caribbean regions, at the Commonwealth Women’s Forum 2018.


  1.                    Commissioned a project on the Economic Costs of Violence Against Women and Girls in the Seychelles. 


  1.                    Launched the first Commonwealth checklist for Gender Inclusive Elections.


  1.                    Published the first Gender Equality in the Commonwealth Report (the Annual Report) in response to the request of the 11WAMM.


  1.                    Technical assistance to Tonga, Lesotho, Seychelles on gender equality and women’s empowerment.


  1.                    Extended the Economic Costs of Violence Against Women and Girls project to Lesotho.


  1.                    MoU with UN Women and other partners on development of the Levelling the Law Strategy.


  1.                    Revised the Commonwealth Gender Equality Policy. 


  1.                    Conducted a gender audit and drafted the Secretariat’s Capacity Development Strategy.


  1.                    Drafted the Gender Equality Results Framework for the Secretariat.


  1.                    Technical assistance to Tonga, Gambia, Lesotho and Mauritius on gender equality and women’s empowerment.





  1.                    Increased engagement with member countries, leading to greater relevance and interest in the consensus building ministerial meetings as well as greater alignment to global, regional and national priorities and commitments, as evidenced by:
  1. Increased attendance of the Health ministerial meeting, from 34 countries (21 ministers) in 2016 to 44 countries (32 ministers, including 2 Deputy Prime Ministers) in 2019. Additionally, the satisfaction rate with the meeting, reported by respondents, has risen from 69% in 2017 to 79% in 2018.
  2. Increased interaction, profile and relevance to regional bodies, resulting in increased collaboration, such as:
    1. Development of the Pacific non-communicable diseases (NCD) Legislative Framework in collaboration with SPC, which had been requested by Pacific Health Ministers, as a critical next step in their response to the NCD crisis in the region. Capacity-building of local legislative drafters from 12 Pacific countries, including all the Pacific Commonwealth countries.
    2. Collaboration with CARICOM and PAHO to develop regional and national NCD legislation in the Caribbean region, to address the risk factors of NCDs, particularly tobacco use.
    3. Convening of a ministerial roundtable on cervical cancer at the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Ministers Conference in 2018, in conjunction with the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


  1.                    Greater responsiveness to ministerial priorities (2016-2019) as well as ministerial calls for Commonwealth collective action, collaboration, leveraging opportunities as a Commonwealth family and cross-sectoral approaches ways of working, as evidenced by:
  1. Development of a roadmap to establish an evidence- and rights-based health sector response and contribution to addressing gender-based violence and violence against women and girls in the Commonwealth, by, among other things, establishing a database to monitor GBV programmes, developing a scorecard to promote accountability and a toolkit to serve as a guide to prevent and respond to GBV events
  2. In collaboration with the SADC Secretariat and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the IT Section, a model of the Commonwealth price-sharing database has been developed based on the experience and lessons from both SADC and OECS, as a first step to procurement collaboration through informed buying, and eventually through co-ordinated informed buying.
  3. Development of a UHC Financing toolkit to support national cross-sectoral collaboration in the implementation of UHC, particularly focusing on marginalised population such as women and young people, and emphasising the critical role of high-level political engagement.


  1.                    Strengthened partnership and collaboration across the Commonwealth family, to ensure the outcomes from ministerial meetings and other Commonwealth priorities are implemented and/or advanced, as evidenced by:
  1. The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (QEDJT) contributed significantly to the huge progress made in the last few years towards the elimination of blinding trachoma as a public health problem, which has been a particular challenge in the Commonwealth. Part of this success has been due to partnership and collaboration, including 47 Commonwealth countries working together through the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium to improve eye health globally. The Secretariat has provided a platform for QEDJT to engage with member countries in its ground-breaking work and to share the principles and methodology, which can be applied to other projects. 
  2. The Secretariat has provided an opportunity for civil society, particularly the Commonwealth Health Professions Alliance (CHPA), to contribute to the ministerial deliberations and recommendations, through the Civil Society Forum Dialogue on the eve CHMM and through the direct interaction with Health ministers. Additionally, the Secretariat has worked with CHPA directly and through the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health (CACH) to promote and implement ministerial outcomes and priorities. The close engagement and collaboration in the past 3 years has been particularly commended.  



  1.                    The production of the second Global Youth Development Index report 2016 and the production of 3 regional State of the Youth reports in Africa, Pacific and Asia. The Commonwealth has led the global efforts to build and track youth data on core human development indicators.


  1.                    The launch of the Commonwealth Alliance for Youth Work Associations (CAYWA) – the Commonwealth is the only institution advocating and supporting youth workers in the Commonwealth.


  1.                    The establishment and support of 11 Commonwealth Youth Networks (including the Commonwealth Youth Council and Commonwealth Students Association) amplifying the voice of young people in development planning.


  1.                    The establishment of the Commonwealth consortium for youth work education and training. The Commonwealth is the only institution offering youth work training for Government officials, including the launch of the Executive Course in Strategic Leadership and Management for Ministers and Permanent secretaries of Youth, a Global first.


  1.                    The successful delivery of the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting and the consensus on the Commonwealth Youth Policy to resource and finance youth development including the production of a global first toolkit on Youth Mainstreaming;


  1.                    The establishment of a Global Friends of Youth Employment Group (comprising World Bank, MasterCard Foundation, ILO, DFID, Africa Development Bank International Youth Foundation Commonwealth and the AU) to implement the ‘systems approach’ to tackle youth unemployment in targeted member states.


  1.                    Launched the first ever Strategic Management Executive Leadership Course for Ministers of Youth and Piloted with 15 Countries; Regional Intergovernmental Organisations and Youth Development Stakeholders.


  1.                    Supported the African Union Youth Division in the Implementation of the African Union Youth Decade Plan of Action through funding and technical assistance in the publishing of the State of the African Youth Report and working on scaling up for the first ever African Union Youth Development Index 2020 using the Global Youth Development Index.


  1.                    Scaled up partnerships with UN Systems Globally on Enhancing Global Youth Development and Empowerment including: -
    1. Partnership with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs on Evidence Based Policy Making and partnered with the African Union and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community to roll out Regional Evidence Based Policy Workshops
    2. Partnered with UNCTAD in the launch of The Policy Guide for Youth Entrepreneurship and the Policy guide for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Blue and Green Economies targeting the 33 Commonwealth SIDS and rolled out regional entrepreneurship workshops in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean including the revitalisation of the Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs that enhances a youth disaggregated mechanism to trade entrepreneurship and business development in Africa
    3. Partnered with UNESCO in the UNESCO Youth Forum and UNDESA on the Global ECOSOC Youth Forums mainstreaming Commonwealth Youth Priorities within UN Global Youth Processes
    4. Partnered with UNDESA and UN-Habitat in partnership with the Commonwealth Countering Violent Extremism Unit on the Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 Promoting Peacebuilding Through National Youth Policies with country level pilots in Kenya and planned partnerships for technical assistance to Sierra Leone and Trinidad and Tobago


  1.                    Launched the Commonwealth Youth and Climate Advocacy Toolkit and trained 200 youth in Africa and the Pacific on Climate Advocacy in the past 3 years.


  1.                    Supported the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in the State of the Pacific Youth Report and conducted the first Pacific Wide Commonwealth Youth Leaders Workshop and Climate Advocacy Workshop.


  1.                    Supported the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean, led by Mexico, in developing their Youth Development Index using domains and indicators from the Global Youth Development Index



  1.                    In 2016, we developed 4 e-learning courses to maximise accessibility and reach of the Secretariat’s Debt Management expertise to debt management officials in member states in a cost effective manner. Since the inception of the courses the Secretariat has delivered more than 30 e-learning courses to cater to the large demand and assisted more than 200 debt officials of 34 countries in capacity building in public debt management.


  1.                    Following technical assistance to The Bahamas in 2016 to develop the domestic debt market, a number of policy changes to modernize public debt management has been introduced by The Bahamas, which includes (a) adoption of primary issuances process and policies in line with best international practices, (b) setting up of a Central Securities Depository at the Central Bank which is to be fully operationalised in the current year, (c) development of a new Public Debt Management Act, which is at the advanced stage of enactment. The new Act will strengthen various strands of public debt management and bolster public debt management framework in The Bahamas


  1.                    Assisted the Government of Malta in developing a draft Public Debt Management Act to reflect an effective legal framework which supports sound practice, good governance and prudent principles of public debt management.  The Government Borrowing and Management of Public Debt Act, was enacted into law in July 2017 by the Government of Malta


  1.                    Advisory Assistance to Fiji on bond market development has facilitated introduction of re-opening of bonds in and adoption of benchmark issuance policy by the Government in 2017. The Secretariat’s intervention is enabling the Government to modernise financial market infrastructure by establishing a new Central Securities Depository and dematerialising government securities. 


  1.                    Designed and developed a new Commonwealth Secretariat debt management system (Commonwealth Meridian), which will replace the flagship software CS-DRMS, for recording public and publicly guaranteed debt, lending portfolios and private sector external debt in member countries. Commonwealth Meridian includes stronger emphasis on medium-term debt management strategy development, increasing awareness of risk management, growing importance of the management of contingent liabilities, new reporting standards and the need for improved transparency. The system is now being implemented in member countries.


  1.                    Through a collaborative effort to promote effective debt management in member countries we joined forces with UNCTAD to develop a methodology to assess the quality of data recorded in debt management systems. The methodology allows for debt data quality measurement based on institution and instrument classification in conformity with international standards in debt data recording and dissemination.


Trade, Ocean and Natural Resources


  1.                    Setting up and operationalising- the Intra Commonwealth SME Association.  Provided a platform for businesses to showcase their products and services and network with private and public sector leaders to forge new business relationships, as well as position their firms as credible partners. Three trade summits were held- in Asia – New Delhi, Pacific – Gold Coast, and Africa – Nairobi


  1.                    Operationalising the Commonwealth Small States Trade Finance Facility. Many smaller and poorer economies, including Commonwealth small states, are facing increasing difficulties to access international trade finance. The Commonwealth Small States Trade Finance Facility, helps augment trade and investment finance for small states of the Commonwealth. The concept is based on the highly innovative use of blended finance that seeks to achieve maximum impact with minimal levels of official assistance. It is expected that Commonwealth small states will have access to up to US$ 300 million of incremental trade finance over a three-year period.


  1.                    Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA): Supported the Advanced Programme for Economic Integration (APEI) of which Zambia, along with Mauritius, Seychelles, Mozambique and Malawi to conclude Southern Africa’s first mutual recognition agreement (MRA). This allows for the recognition of qualifications and supports the region’s goal of free movement of business persons by ensuring that their qualifications are recognised.


  1.                    Support to the East African Community on Common Market Services Integration & Mutual Recognition Agreements. Lack of recognition of foreign qualification and experience acts as core impediment to trade in professional services, hindering the free movement of professionals across borders either in their capacity as individuals, or as professional firms. Mutual Recognition Agreements have a great potential for facilitating the movement of professional services suppliers.  They are also instrumental to policy reform, and can be a very effective tool for economic integration, while at the same time maintaining the diversity of services that come onto the markets. Objective of support to create legally backstop the trade in services negotiations and MRA negotiations of the veterinary profession, land surveying profession, legal profession and pharmacist profession.  


  1.                    Launch of National Export Strategies in Botswana, Jamaica Grenada, and Launch of Commonwealth COMESA Regional Leather Design Studio to enhance the capacity of regional designers, to tap into global value chain leather related products.


  1.                    Launch of Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda: In 2018, the Commonwealth Heads of Government launched the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda (CCA) with the aim of raising intra-Commonwealth trade and investment to US$2 trillion by 2030. The CCA recognises international trade and investment as an engine for generating inclusive and participative economic growth and a means to deliver the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The CCA is guided by the principles that cooperation should be pragmatic and practical, leading to results and taking into account regional integration initiatives including for small, vulnerable and least developed countries. The agenda is pursued through structured dialogue around five clusters focusing on: Physical Connectivity, Digital Connectivity, Regulatory Connectivity, Business to Business connectivity and Supply Side Connectivity. To date, four of the five clusters have held their first meetings with participation from more than half of the Commonwealth member countries. The digital cluster is co-led by the United Kingdom and South Africa, the Physical Cluster is led by The Gambia, the Regulatory Cluster is led by Barbados, the Business to Business Cluster is led by Bangladesh and the Supply Side Cluster is led by Vanuatu. The clusters are examining issues related to digital transformation, digital infrastructure, regulatory cooperation, public-private dialogue and Commonwealth business linkages, and MSME participation in agricultural value chains, respectively. Inclusive and sustainable trade are being mainstreamed as cross-cutting issues in all the clusters. During the CCA’s pilot phase, the clusters are developing Early Harvests for onward delivery to Commonwealth Trade Ministers. Members of each cluster have been exchanging experiences and sharing knowledge, including through case studies, to help inform future best practices in the Commonwealth. The clusters have also agreed on terms of reference, setting out their objectives, ambitions and planned outputs up until CHOGM 2020. A number of knowledge products are also being developed by the Secretariat to support the work of the clusters. In order to address data, knowledge and regulatory policy gaps, the Secretariat is developing a CCA data dashboard and a digital regulatory and policy tool kit. To assist policy makers in decision making, the Secretariat is also preparing a study on Digital Prosperity for a Connected Commonwealth, which is assessing the current context and future challenges and opportunities for digital transformation in the Commonwealth.



  1.                    Commonwealth Trade Reviews for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings: The Biennial Commonwealth Trade Reviews have become the authoritative source of data on intra-Commonwealth trade and investment flows, as well as the opportunities for boosting trade among our member countries. The 2015 Trade Review found econometric evidence for a ‘Commonwealth Advantage’, where members tend to trade around 20% more than otherwise; generate 10% more investment with each other than with non-member countries; and bilateral trade costs are, on average, 19% lower. The 2018 Trade Review deepened this understanding of the ‘Commonwealth Advantage’ with the finding that Commonwealth countries enforce commercial contracts 20% faster than the world average, due to their common law heritage that prizes the sanctity of contracts. The Commonwealth Trade Reviews have contributed significantly to reviving the discourse on the potential of intra-Commonwealth trade. The findings have been widely cited at high-level engagements and by member countries, and has helped inform the work of Commonwealth Trade Ministers, the Commonwealth Business Forum at CHOGMs and the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda.


  1.                    Global Advocacy for Trade, Development and the SDGs: The Commonwealth is a leading global advocate for supporting the trade and development interests of the world’s poorest countries, especially the LDCs. The Secretariat has been part of an international consortium that monitors the implementation of commitments to LDCs under the Istanbul Programme of Action (2011-2020). The Secretariat has also undertaken a comprehensive assessment of Aid for Trade and identified ways to improve Aid for Trade effectiveness.  The Secretariat has also undertaken work on trade, oceans and natural resources, especially SDG14 on harmful fishing subsidies.


  1.                    Support for multilateral and regional trade negotiations: The Secretariat has assisted African, Caribbean, Pacific and South Asian member countries to prepare their negotiating positions ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conferences in Nairobi in December 2015 and in Buenos Aires in December 2017. This included organising regional consultations, as well as technical and analytical work to support their negotiating positions. This has been supplemented by the work of the Trade Adviser project at the Small States Office in Geneva. In Africa, we established the Commonwealth African Trade Negotiators Network of former trade negotiators, to provide expert advice to member countries from the region. Importantly, the Commonwealth and its members remain at the forefront of global advocacy to promote free trade in a transparent, inclusive, fair and open rules-based multilateral trading system to help achieve the SDGs, as reflected in the first-ever Commonwealth statement delivered by Malta to the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference in December 2017.



  1.                    The Hub and Spokes Programme through a Network of Trade Advisers provided technical and advisory support to over 20 ACP countries, some major achievements over the last 3 years (2017 – 2019) include: 
  1. Supported and contributed to the successful negotiation, ratification and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Continued support is being provided to the AU in developing strategies to complement the agreement namely:
    1. African Union Trade Facilitation Strategy
    2. African Union Commodities Strategies
    3. African Union Services Sector Development Strategy
    4. African Union Digital Trade and Digital Economy Development Strategy 


  1.              Supported the conclusion and ratification of the SADC-EU EPA, which is now fully operational and in developing the region’s EPA Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, among others. 


  1.              Provided technical and advisory services in supporting Samoa’s accession to the Pacific-EU EPA.


  1.              Successful negotiation of the PACER Plus agreement between 9 Pacific countries and Australia and New Zealand through the programme’s support. 


  1.              Training to over 4000 persons (ACP regions) delivered in areas such as Trade Facilitation, Sensitization on CFTA and EPA to key private and public officials, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Trade Remedies, amongst others. 


  1.              Development and implementation of national trade policies in Fiji, Kenya, Malawi, Jamaica and Belize and National Export Strategies in Botswana and Kenya through Advisers’ technical and advisory assistance.


  1.              Design and development of the African Union Pan African Trade and Investment Committee and the Caribbean Regional Trade Facilitation Committee which work with private sector to implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. It also supports private sector to understand and utilise trade agreements which can facilitate economic activity.


  1.              Contributed to development and implementation of the OECS Free Circulation of Goods Regime.



Natural Resources

  1.              Supported member countries in the design and drafting of policies and laws. Guyana: Natural Resources Fund Act (effective and transparent management of potentially over $30 billion in revenue), The Bahamas: Petroleum Act and Regulations, Vanuatu: Petroleum Policy, Botswana: Mining Policy, Namibia: Petroleum Local Content Policy (maximise benefits to local companies, grow employment and encourage technology transfer), eSwatini: Five regulations for mining operations, health and safety; Cook Islands: Seabed Minerals Act; Kiribati: Seabed minerals exploration regulations.


  1.              Participated in the development of international standards including the OECD-led Guiding Principles for Durable Extractive Contracts and supported member countries in the International Seabed Authority (ISA) negotiations of the Draft Regulations for Exploitation of Mineral Resources in the Area. 


  1.              Delivery of highly rated capacity building initiatives and member driven platforms for knowledge sharing and collaboration. Under the New Petroleum Producers Discussion Group[11], in addition to the annual meeting, launched a unique Geoscience Mentoring Programme. Established a successful partnership with the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds and hosted the inaugural Commonwealth Natural Resources Sovereign Wealth Fund workshop. Delivered tailored training -Namibia (economic modelling and contract negotiations), Jamaica and Vanuatu (fundamentals of oil and gas industry). Supported the African Group at ISA meetings and workshops. Successfully launched the Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Forum to support acceleration of the energy transition and established a partnership with the International Solar Alliance.


  1.              Contract negotiations: Supported Jamaica, eSwatini and Namibia in negotiations of contracts that would generate significant revenue (in some cases potentially billions of dollars). 

Ocean Governance/Blue Charter

  1.              Commonwealth Blue Charter: The Commonwealth Blue Charter has become a flagship Commonwealth initiative, linking ocean-related commitments to cooperative government action. More than half (at least 27 countries) of the Commonwealth is participating in one or more Blue Charter Action Groups. Twelve countries have stepped forward to lead nine Action Groups. In June 2019, the Secretariat (with Bloomberg and UK-FCO) hosted a 4-day meeting for the Blue Charter Champions to assist in developing their terms of reference, work plans, partnerships, and plans leading up to CHOGM 2020. 


  1.              National ocean policy development: Over the past three years, we have provided advice and support for national ocean polices and related ‘blue economy policies’ for: Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Kiribati, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Vanuatu, as well as Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.


  1.                Governance and institutional strengthening for Blue Economy development: Assisting in developing a strategic blue economy framework and embedding it across government in the Seychelles. A long term resident adviser was deployed (2016-2018) in support of this, and a key outcome was the Blue Economy Strategy Framework and Roadmap. The Roadmap has been reviewed by agencies and published as an intra-agency document. Successfully conducted: half-day engagement with Principal Secretaries of key Blue Economy Departments and a one-day implementation exercise with Micro, Small and Medium enterprises, academia and financing institutions, and more are planned for 2019. 


  1.              Capacity building: Deployment of a resident adviser to St Vincent and the Grenadines (2016-2018) and a short term deployment to Saint Lucia enabled these member States to address areas flagged in Audits by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), conduct safety and compliance vessel inspections and registration, enhanced training for operators and adherence to international maritime conventions. Institutional capacity building continues for the Eastern Caribbean Ocean Governance team.

Organisational Efficiency, Effectiveness and Outreach


  1.              Commonwealth Secretariat’s Evaluation Strategy and Plan developed for 2017/18 – 2020/21 Strategic Plan period.


  1.              Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Framework developed. Also, a ring-fenced budget for MEL Fund established.   


  1.              Peer Review Mechanism to enhance evaluation quality established. External Peer Reviewers are composed of evaluators and researchers, including credible institutions from member states are part of the Peer Review Panel;


  1.              Evaluation studies concluded and on-going include:
    1. Evaluation of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Strategic Plan 2013/14-2016/17 (January 2017)
    2. Review of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (February 2017)
    3. End of Term Review of the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005 – 2015 (March 2016)
    4. Meta-Evaluation; A Synthesis of Evaluation Studies 2005 – 2016 (December 2016)
    5. Namibia Country Evaluation (2018)
    6. Grenada Country Evaluation (2018)
    7. Papua New Guinea Country Evaluation (2018)
    8. Evaluation of the Commonwealth Secretariats’ Democracy Programme (2019)
    9. Sierra Leone Country Evaluation (on-going)
    10. Guyana Country Evaluation (on-going)
    11. Evaluation of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Economic Development Programme (on-going)
    12. Hub and Spokes Programme Evaluation (on-going)
    13. Impact assessment of Emerging Leaders Dialogue – Canada (on-going)
    14. CARICOM Strategic Plan Evaluation (on-going)
    15. Mid-term Review of the Strategic Plan 2017/18 – 2020/21 (on-going)


  1.              Management Responses for all evaluations have been instituted as part of strengthening the follow-up and utilisation of evaluations in line with international practices;


  1.              All evaluation reports and management responses are now going to be published on the website.


  1.              A lessons log has been established, pulling together summative evaluations lessons from the Meta Evaluation 2005-2015 and all evaluations going forward;



  1.              Satisfactory progress in the implementation of evaluation recommendations with a total of 78% of agreed actions either implemented or implementation is on-going;


  1.              The inaugural Commonwealth Evaluation and Learning Week was convened in London on 28 April – 2 May 2019 brought together; representatives from member countries, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning experts and Commonwealth Staff;


  1.              Evaluation communication products, including evaluation summaries and case studies have been produced to enhance engagement with and utilization of evaluation studies.



  1.              Adoption of SDG-focused Strategic Plan aligned with the Commonwealth Charter and prioritised as per member states’ consensus.


  1.              Development of Annual Delivery Plans with detailed budgets, work plans as well as results framework and impact pathway. CHOGM outcomes have been integrated into the Delivery Plan. Performance reporting has been aligned accordingly.  


  1.              Strengthened project management through the introduction of an organisation-wide programme management and information system (PMIS), embedding a Results- Based Management (RBM) approach across the portfolio, rationalising and reducing the number of projects delivering to the strategic plan.


  1.              Introduction of quarterly performance reviews for all projects and quarterly review meetings for smooth delivery and mid-course correction.





  1.              Increased Resilience of IT Infrastructure in the Offices of the Secretariat and in the Geneva and New York Small states offices by introducing redundant internet links; strengthening security configurations; revamping power and network systems and improving on WIFI availability. 


  1.              Alignment of data and technology to the operational, programme and strategic functions of the Secretariat. Activities include enhancing flexible and remote working capabilities; implementation of a Data Governance and Enterprise Architecture frameworks; provision of training on digital tools; incorporation of Machine Learning into algorithms in use; promotion and enhancement of digital collaboration platforms and enhancing in-house skills.


  1.              Introduction of virtual/e-Meeting facilities in the Offices of the Secretariat and in the Geneva and New York Small states offices, and providing state of the art secure video conferencing links. These installations have led to the savings in travel costs, and on the impact on the environment.


  1.              Development of a platform to aid quarterly reporting for the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).


  1.              ICT support to develop platforms such as the Commonwealth Innovation Hub including Commonwealth Data Platform and other capabilities such as an e-Learning Platform; dashboards; the revamped CFTC Talent pool,  development of the Commonwealth Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform (OCCJR), The Rule of Law Portal, The Conventional Arms Control in the Commonwealth Initiative (CACCI) sub-site and the digitisation of legal documents including drafting, amending, publishing and codification; drafting of requirements specification for various portals and tools; and the provision of data and analytics for various projects and meetings.


  1.              Establishment of a private Cloud platform to host the Commonwealth website and internal applications. 


  1.              Alignment of ICT and Data capabilities with Projects and Programmes including contributions to the Commonwealth Price Sharing database for Medicines; Youth Development Index data for the African Union and CARICOM


  1.              Consistent support of IT Operations for the Secretariat; the Commonwealth Small States Offices and Commonwealth partner organisations including Commonwealth Tax Association, Commonwealth Foundation, Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitration Tribunal and Commonwealth Games Federation.


  1.              Continual Service Improvement resulting in increasing visibility of ICT work; participation in the provision of inputs to the CHOGM 2020 policy paper; building of partnerships including a partnership with Bloomberg for the use of the Bloomberg data terminal.



  1.              In line with the ‘innovation and partnerships’ cross-cutting outcome in the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, the Innovation and Partnerships section was established in November 2017.


  1.              The Secretariat developed a Partnerships Strategy in consultation with member governments, Secretariat directorates, Commonwealth organisations and other partners. The Partnerships Strategy was approved by the Board of Governors in June 2018 and became operational on 1st July 2018.


  1.              Between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2019, the Secretariat signed a total of 32 Memorandums of Understanding. This includes:
    1. Nine MOUs with Member States
    2. Two MOUs with Commonwealth Organisations
    3. Five MOUs with Regional Organisations
    4. Nine MOUs with International Organisations
    5. Seven MOUs with Private Sector and Philanthropic Organisations


  1.              The S-G committed to having a regular dialogue with the 90 Commonwealth organisations and the Assistant Secretary-General was appointed as their point of contact.


  1.              The Commonwealth Innovation Hub, a digital space designed to be a ‘one-stop digital shop’ for everything concerning the Commonwealth, was launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018.


  1.              An MoU between the Secretariat and Bloomberg Philanthropies was signed in April 2018 for the two organisations to work jointly on a number of initiatives, including promoting more inclusive economic growth and trade, sustainable marine economies, improving climate finance frameworks, strengthening the resilience of small and vulnerable states to the impact of natural disasters and creating a Data Platform to improve the governance of marine protected areas.


  1.              The S-G’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Awards were launched in 2018, as part of which 15 award winners were selected by an independent jury of experts from among hundreds of nominations. Each award winner received £,2000 in prize money to help them scale up their innovations. The awards process culminated in a prize-giving ceremony in June 2019 in which the Duke of Sussex was the chief guest.


  1.              A quarterly Commonwealth Innovation Newsletter was launched in 2018 to share news and information with all stakeholders on the latest SDGs-focused innovations being nurtured by the Secretariat, Commonwealth organisations and member states. The newsletter has been welcomed by all key stakeholders as a valuable resource.


  1.              With a view towards supporting member states move up the innovation and digital value chains, the Commonwealth Africa Innovation Ecosystem was established at the first regional workshop of its kind in Seychelles in June 2019, attended by government officials, innovators and young entrepreneurs from many of the 20 member states in Africa.



Commonwealth Small States Office in Geneva

  1.              Opening of Guyana Mission in September 2016 and a year later, chaired the ACP in 2017.


  1.              Graduation of Sierra Leone mission in February 2016. The mission opened its own offices and is playing an important role for enhanced and effective participation of LDCs in the work of the Human Right’s Council (HRC).


  1.              September 2016: one technical adviser posted for two years until August 2018.


  1.              January 2017: moving to a new office with more modern facilities, conference units, break-out areas, parking, reception service in the building and access to the auditorium with a discount rate for tenants. Move was successful and the tenants are very satisfied.


  1.              Since the move, some member states contacted the CSSO to join the CSSO such as Namibia, ACP and the Gambia (2017-2018).


  1.              Malawi: took over as Chair of the ACP in 2018 and was able to receive direct support from the other resident mission, Guyana.


  1.              Opening of Vanuatu Mission – February 2018. (3rd Pacific country to have a diplomatic presence in Geneva).


  1.              Secured Swiss grant of a total of CHF 500,000.00 (2018-2019 for the expansion of the office).


  1.              Increase in visibility through workshops, partnership and training courses held at the CSSO etc. which have generated more interest from the countries and the Swiss mission.


  1.              Appointments of four technical advisers to support and provide technical expertise on human rights and trade the small states countries and visiting delegations.


  1.              January 2019: The Bahamas one of the first resident missions to join the CSSO and graduated a year later. In January 2019, The Bahamas, with the assistance of HRU, obtained a seat at the Human Rights Council as one of the first English-speaking Caribbean countries to serve in the Council and of two Small Islands Developing State countries with Fiji. Without the facilities and support provided by the CSSO Geneva, the mission would not have been able to have a presence in Geneva and therefore would not have a seat at the Council (testimonial from the Chargé d’affaires of the Bahamas).


Joint Commonwealth Office in New York 

  1.              Relocated Joint Office and 9 diplomatic missions to new premises efficiently and seamlessly in March 2017. Collaboration between the Joint Office, Office of the supervising AS-G, Facilities Management and IT Section ensured a smooth process that enabled the diplomatic missions to start work on the first working day after the move with IT service and all other facilities in place.


  1.              Recovered outstanding arrears (in one case dating back to 2008) for rent, contributions and utilities from two resident missions totaling $44,791.81.  Thereafter ensuring that payments are made within a reasonable timeframe.


  1.              Achieved significant improvement in 2017-18 KPMG audit report over last audit period 2013-14.  Overall rating for 2017-18 “Significant assurance” with minor improvement opportunities. These have been rectified.  Overall rating for 2013-14 “Limited assurance”.


  1.              Completed and coordinated signing of new MOUs between the Secretariat and the ten resident missions included CARICOM.


  1.              Revised and updated office procedures manual that was used as a guide for, and commended by, the KPMG auditor.


  1.              Visited several hotels and thereafter negotiated a cost-effective rate for the S-G and delegations from the Secretariat attending meetings during the UN General Assembly and at other times.  This has resulted in significant cost saving for accommodation during UNGA. 


  1.              Improved financial accounting including by moving all suppliers and contractors from cheque payment to direct debit or electronic payment only; and renewed or established new maintenance contracts with all contractors


  1.              Provided practical assistance to St Vincent and the Grenadines to assist them in their successful bids for presidency of ECOSOC and member of the Security Council.


  1.              Successfully engaged with the Canadian Permanent Mission resulting in the provision of an Intern to assist the Joint Office and resident Missions for 5 months during the start of the 73rd session of the General Assembly. At our request, the Canadian Mission has agreed to provide the same service from August 2019 for the 74th session commencing in September 2019.


  1.              Collaborated with colleagues at Marlborough House on several workshops and meetings held at the Joint Office or at UN Headquarters.  Hosting workshops and major meetings at the Joint Office is a new innovation made possible by the move into more spacious and appropriate office accommodation.   This included coordinating logistics, providing guidance and in some cases drafting or editing documents for circulation.  Some key events are listed below:
  1. High-level Panel on the Blue Economy to develop guiding principles for the Commonwealth Blue Charter.
  2. Side events at the Joint Office or UN Headquarters in relation to the Ocean and the Blue Economy co-organised with UN Agencies or Commonwealth member states (2017 and 2018).
  3. Side events during the Global Disability Summits (2018 and 2019).
  4. Strategic Negotiating Skills Workshop: training for small states UN representatives in collaboration with UNITAR and the Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence (2018).
  5. Training seminar in collaboration with the Canadian Permanent Mission on International Negotiation and on Intercultural effectiveness (2018 and 2019).
  6. Annual meetings of Commonwealth Women’s Machineries (2017, 2018, 2019).
  7. Briefings on the work of the Commonwealth Human Rights Unit (2017 and 2018).

Smart Corporate Management


  1.              External accreditation of the Secretariat’s ISO Energy Management system achieved in April 2016.  The external auditors NQA, said in their report that the Secretariat’s system was; “one of the best they have ever reviewed”. 


  1.              Following the launching of the Commonwealth Hub in June 2016, Facilities initiated ‘Project Connect’ which included; refurbishing the 3rd floor of Commonwealth House to relocating 45 Secretariat staff, setting up the second floor (CH) to accept the three Commonwealth Hub partners, negotiating with the landlord, work with solicitors and building consultants to produce respective sub leases for each partner, successfully manage all Secretariat and Hub Partner logics to meet 1 November 2016 opening deadline.


  1.              Between 2016-17, a review and restructuring of the Health & Safety management system resulted in a rationalised and more effective oversight Committee along with a new stand-alone Health & Safety Policy (rather than being part of the Staff handbook), along with new processes, guidance, procedures and associated forms.  A separate health & Safety intranet page was also established as a ‘one stop shop’ for staff.


  1.              Successful project delivery of the relocation of the Geneva and New York small states offices by the respective 31 January and 31 March 31 2017 deadlines. Both projects were effectively managed at the same time. Both sets of works included; identification of new office space, fit out of space to client requirements, logistics moves, clear down and hand back of old space.


  1.              Formulated and implemented corporate Clear Desk Policy on behalf of the COO in January 2018. Subsequent audits found a fairly consistent staff 85% compliance rate.


  1.              Effectively facilitated and enabled the use of Secretariat premises for London CHOGM venues by the FCO, while at the same time providing adequate working arrangements for staff during the event.


  1.              Revised corporate Environmental Management Policy implemented in April 2018. 


  1.              August 2018 Carbon Footprint report noted total energy consumption reduced by 13% on 2014/15 levels due to FMS energy efficiency efforts.  A 2% decrease above target levels “a fantastic achievement!” (Compass 7/9/19). Carbon emissions for buildings showed an 11% reduction over prior year.


  1.              Single use plastics were removed from all corporate Facilities operations by September 2018.


  1.              External reaccreditation of the Secretariat’s Energy Management system to the ISO 50001 Energy Management standard was achieved in March 2019.




  1.              Audited financial statements signed off by December of the same year for all three funds 2 years running as well as unmodified/clean External Audit reports year on year


  1.              Introduction and setting up of the Workplace Pension Scheme for Auto enrolment 2018 in the Secretariat Payroll system


  1.              Introduction of myCintra Online Payslips to Secretariat staff and the phasing out of hardcopy payslips


  1.              Improved monthly management account reporting to show succinct and key information for performance monitoring


  1.              Renegotiation of the finance system contract saving £100k over five years


  1.              Improved collection practices for contributions and pledges


  1.              Introduction of Data Analytics to provide enhanced reporting and analysis on the Secretariat’s travel


  1.              GDPR compliance with respect to the Commonwealth Secretariat Pension and Life Assurance Scheme


  1.              Pilot of hotel booking programme through the Travel Management Company to enhance the Secretariat’s traveller duty of care programme as well as create efficiencies


  1.              Agreement and formulation of the Secretariat’s Risk Appetite Statement






  1.              External Procurement web site established early 2016 increasing transparency in procurement opportunities and transparency of information about the identity of successful bidders and contracts awarded.


  1.              Procurement Follow Up Internal Audit report March 2016 Secretariat received a rating of significant assurance with minor improvement opportunities, which have been completed.


  1.              In conjunction with multiple internal and external stakeholders the September 2016 Procurement manual was implemented along with refreshed invitation to tender templates aimed at increasing the transparency of the Secretariat’s procurement processes and improving the level playing field for bidders by enabling them to understand what is required in an objective and transparent manner.  


  1.              First Procurement Code of Ethics for suppliers implemented in April 2016


  1.              First staff training in procurement delivered across the Secretariat in 2016 


  1.              2016-17 External review of Procurement function recommended the establishment of a permanent Procurement team with defined roles and responsibilities.  This new set up was to deliver a professional procurement structure and control at a senior level whilst utilising category management for key areas of spend and also supports purchasing at a low value level. This model was expected to deliver significant additional value to the organisation whilst also providing greater control and visibility of third party expenditure.


  1.               Recruitment of staff to a permanent procurement team commenced in 2018
  1. Procurement Manager – in post since 19th November 2018
  2. Procurement Assistant – in post since 28th May 2019
  3. Procurement Officer – final interviews held on 4th July 2019


  1.              Procurement becomes a standalone function in June 2019 concluding the recommendations of the external review of Procurement. Following the Senior Management Committee’s decision, the Procurement function will report to the Senior Director (Corporate Business). In the interim, and until the position is filled, the Function will report to the Deputy S-G.


  1.              First Procurement Budget (2019-2020) approved for the new standalone Procurement function. The budget has been approved for modernising the Secretariat’s procurement practices through updating of commercial terms and conditions of contracts and the adoption of e-tendering and contract management systems thus aligning with best international practice in procurement. 


  1.              Procurement senior stakeholder engagement undertaken May 2019 presenting findings from procurement benchmarking against UN organisations. Presentations made to Directors and Corporate Affairs Committee in May 2019. Feedback received is being incorporated into the Secretariat’s Procurement manual update 2019.



  1.              Successfully delivered the 2018 CHOGM which was the most highly attended CHOGM to date by Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers.


  1.              Delivered the Commonwealth@70 reception including the S-G’s Innovation Awards which gained extensive media coverage.


  1.              Successful reception to launch HRH The Duke of Sussex in his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador with HRH The Duchess of Sussex which garnered extensive media coverage.  We worked to ensure maximum engagement with Youth Representatives from across the Commonwealth.


  1.              Series of successful and well-attended ministerial meetings:
  1. CFAMM – July in London and previous Septembers in New York
  2. CFMM – Bali and Washington
  3. CHMM – Geneva
  4. CSMM – Gold Coast, Australia
  5. CYMM – Uganda
  6. CLMM – Bahamas
  7. CCEM – Fiji



  1.              Launch of the Secretariat’s first on-line benefits portal for employees.


  1.              Successful implementation of pensions auto enrolment for all staff from January 2018.


  1.              Successful recruitment to over 100 posts since June 2017 with another 40 posts currently under recruitment at different stages.


  1.              Development of an HR Strategy for 2017/18 to 2020/21.


  1.              Development on a range of on-line processes including on line appraisals, performance management and request to hire workflow.


  1.              Successful delivery of a programme of organisational training events including Travel Safety, Diversity, Inclusivity and Unconscious Bias, Certificate of Sponsorship System and Diplomatic Protocol Training, Project Management Prince 2 Foundation and Practitioner Levels, Excel Introductory, Risk management, Executive Media Coaching for CHOGM Team.


  1.              A new three stage process from recruitment for professionals and diplomatic roles was introduced in 2017 and has proved to be effective.


  1.              Development and launch of a flexible working policy for employees in 2018.


  1.              Successful delivery of the Secretariat’s first Health and Wellbeing Week for employees.


  1.              Introduction of a more thorough and fairer system of pre-employment checks in 2019.



  1.              Ensuring Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT) was fully staffed after a period of carrying vacancies during 2017-18, with improved gender diversity (5 men and 3 women judges) and relevant expertise, by advising the Secretariat regarding the CSAT appointments process. 


  1.              Before CSAT, defending four cases (including one by my predecessor before I took up post) in close consultation with S-G, Chief of Staff, and other senior members of the Secretariat; liaising with members of relevant Directorates to ensure that all relevant information was put before the Tribunal; engaging and instructing external Counsel as required; and conducting without prejudice settlement negotiations including the successful reduction of a costs claim where our settlement offer was only just beaten. 


  1.              Achieving recognition from the Audit Committee’s 2018-19 annual report for regularity and transparency of legal updates including on CSAT matters (securing their praise for keeping litigation costs low); addressing the Board and Executive Committee as required.  


  1.              Advising SMC, the Chief of Staff and HR on staff employment matters which have been resolved internally; giving prompt, clear and helpful advice on a range of legal questions arising in the conduct of the Secretariat’s work, including the recovery of VAT under the 2005 Revised Agreed MoU and the use of Marlborough House around CHOGM and the London Marathon.


  1.              Improving systems and procedural efficiency by developing model templates and guidance on Memoranda of Understanding, hotel and conference bookings (with Travel Centre) and data protection; drawing up model clauses for procurement contracts and advising on updated guidance; and supporting HR in the review of the Staff Handbook by commissioning a draft revised text from an external consultant, convening meetings of the Handbook Committee including Legal Counsel’s Office, HR and the CSSA, taking part in outreach sessions to staff and reviewing and incorporating feedback.


  1.              Advising on legal questions arising in relation to the operation of the Commonwealth Small States Offices and supporting AS-G in his meetings in New York with the United Nations and US officials regarding the Secretariat’s status as a Permanent Observer of the United Nations and the status of the New York office under U.S. law.


  1.              Advising on the arrangements establishing the Commonwealth Small States Trade Finance Facility, intervening to ensure that a suitable dispute resolution clause was adopted.


  1.              Working with HR to conduct recruitment, since the current Legal Counsel arrived in October 2017, for the position of the Legal Researcher & Public Affairs Officer in November 2017 and the current, international recruitment for the regraded position of Legal Officer (Institutional Matters) for which there have been 121 applicants from across the Commonwealth; and taking part in two TONR recruitment panels.


  1.              Raising awareness of the Commonwealth and promoting the Secretariat’s work at external and internal events, such as: speaking at both the University College London/International Law Association event on Crimes Against Humanity in October 2019 and at the Secretariat’s International Women’s Day event in March 2019; co-organising the London Conference in International Law to be held on 3 – 4 October 2019; and introducing academic contacts made through these networks to Secretariat experts working on relevant areas to explore opportunities for collaboration, including Trade, Blue Charter and Rule of Law teams. 


  1.              The Legal Counsel team has organised summer work experience for law students, receiving positive feedback from participants; in 2018 we organised the first international organisation team to take part in the London Legal Walk, when lawyers across the Secretariat raised £485 in support of free legal services in the London area. 





  1.              Visibility in mainstream media:
  1. In March 2015, there were 2,786 articles about the Commonwealth in newspapers and on television and radio channels.  By the last CHOGM (April 2018), that number had risen to 8,260, an increase of nearly 300 per cent.
  2. On the Commonwealth’s 70th anniversary in 2019, the organisation received impressive international media coverage with more than 350 articles and broadcasts appearing around the world, reaching more than 90 million people.  Pre-arranged interviews with the international branch of the Press Association newswire, the Economist and Sky News saw the S-G speak about the Blue Charter, recent terror attacks, trade benefits associated with Commonwealth membership and the royal family. A BBC Breakfast interview on the day of the anniversary was repeated more than 10 times on various BBC channels including the BBC World Service, the BBC Asian Network and BBC Radio 5 Live.


  1.              Followers on Social Media:
  1. Since May 2016 the Commonwealth has gained:
    1. 48,044 followers (+ 195%) on Twitter; 
    2. 106,903 followers (+ 530%) on Facebook; and 
    3. 10,644 (+ 59%) on LinkedIn.
  2. The social media team has introduced more videos across all social media platforms.  Consistent use of branding, watermarking and subtitles on videos has increased the number of downloads.
  3. Instagram is rapidly becoming one of the Commonwealth’s top social media platforms. The number of followers increased from just over 3,000 in May 2018 to more than 8,300 in May 2019 – a 177 per cent increase.


  1.              The Commonwealth’s web platforms: Since 2015, the web team has:
  1. Designed and launched Compass, the Commonwealth’s internal website;
  2. Redesigned the home page of the Commonwealth’s main website, to reflect the organisation’s mission and mandate – adding features such as a timeline and a dedicated page for the S-G;
  3. Designed and launched the first on-line version of The Biennial Report for CHOGM 2018;
  4. Designed and launched two micro-sites for flagship programmes, one for the Commonwealth Blue Charter and one for the Small States Centre of Excellence.


  1.              Publications: The Commonwealth publications team was OECD’s first partner for on-line publishing.  This led to the creation of the i-Library, allowing members of the public to access all Commonwealth publications in digital form that were previously published as printed books. Over the last three years, there have been more than 340,000 downloads from the Commonwealth i-Library, from 100 countries and 1,700 institutions. Content that was previously unavailable because books were out of print has become available again.  Demand for these publications demonstrates the continuing relevance of Commonwealth research. The publishing team also oversaw a re-launch of the Commonwealth brand, including a modified logo and improved visual standards, ensuring that Commonwealth products have a consistent look and feel.


  1.              Knowledge Management: The public now has better access to Commonwealth records, due to:
  1. 95 per cent of Commonwealth Observer Group Reports, covering nearly 40 years of Commonwealth election observation work, are now available to download via the library catalogue;
  2. More than 250 CHOGM and Ministerial Meeting Communiques dating back to 1965 and the birth of the Secretariat are now publicly available via the library catalogue.
  3. The Knowledge Management team has streamlined two separate systems into one searchable Library and Archive system.

Received 11 May 2020








Page 55 of 55 

[1] All 19 Commonwealth African countries are from Sub Saharan Africa

[2]  Page 10-11 Economic Development in Africa Report 2016- Debt Dynamics and Developmental Finance, United nations (2016)

[3] For the African lower middle-income countries, the estimated investment requirement is at about USD $345 billion–$359 billion per year.

[4] both public and private investment

[5] Under Debt Management Facility (DMF) III of the World Bank, the Secretariat will deliver assistance as an Implementing Partner on DeMPA, Debt Reform plans, Medium Term Debt Management Strategy formulation and debt transparency  

[6] E-learning course has benefited all 16 member African countries from sub-Sahara region which includes Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Gambia, Seychelles, Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Kenya, Swaziland, Lesotho, Tanzania, Malawi

[7]  Member countries Malawi, Tanzania, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya and Namibia

[8] Member countries Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leonne and The Gambia

[9] Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Gambia, Seychelles, Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Kenya, Swaziland, Lesotho, Tanzania, Malawi

[10] Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia

[11] a joint initiative with Chatham House and NRGI