The Secretariat: Organisation and Resources

  • Margaret P. Doxey
Part of the Cambridge Commonwealth Series book series (CAMCOM)


It is somewhat paradoxical, but perhaps in line with the rather idiosyncratic nature of the modern Commonwealth, that the Secretariat should have been set up by Commonwealth Prime Ministers at their 1965 Meeting, in the midst of acute political controversy over Southern Rhodesia. Relatively informal meetings of Prime Ministers which took the place of the formal, Imperial Conferences of pre-World War II vintage, were held in London periodically after 1945. These meetings were serviced by the British Cabinet Office, with the Secretary to the Cabinet acting as secretary.1 Prime Ministers met in private; there was no pre-set agenda; no formal resolutions were adopted; and no votes were cast. It was understood that there would be no question of collective Commonwealth policies; no discussion of the internal affairs of members; no intervention in disputes between members unless both parties agreed.2 Besides Prime Ministers’ meetings, there were other ministerial meetings, notably those of Commonwealth Finance Ministers held prior to the annual IMF/World Bank meetings. Governments handled their own relations with other Commonwealth members and the British Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO), which superseded the Dominions and India Offices in 1947, looked after general liaison and information.


Senior Official British Government Planning Committee High Commissioner Commonwealth Government 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    J. D. B. Miller, ‘Commonwealth Conferences 1945–1955’, The Year Book of World Affairs, Vol. 10 (1956) 144–69.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See Joe Garner, The Commonwealth Office 1925–1968 (London: Heinemann, 1978).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See B. Vivekanandan, ‘The Commonwealth Secretariat’, International Studies (New Delhi), Vol. 9 (1969) 301–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 5.
    Arnold Smith (with Clyde Sanger), Stitches in Time: The Commonwealth in World Politics (Don Mills, Ont.: General Publishing, 1981) 5.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Great Britain, Prime Minister’s Office: Report of the Committee on Representational Service Overseas, Cmnd. 2276, 1964.Google Scholar
  6. 35.
    One can compare UNESCO’s elaborate ‘visa’ system of initialling described by Richard Hoggart in An Idea and its Servants: UNESCO from Within (London: Chatto & Windus, 1978) 123.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Margaret P. Doxey 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret P. Doxey
    • 1
  1. 1.Trent UniversityCanada

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