Commonwealth Secretary General all candidates dialogue with civil society

Since this event took place, Baroness Patricia Scotland of Dominica was selected new Commonwealth Secretary-General – the first woman to hold the post, which will commence in April 2016.

On Wednesday 25 November, a dialogue between the three candidates for the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General was held in Malta’s House of Representatives as a special session of the Commonwealth People’s Forum (CPF). The event included an opportunity for civil society to interact directly with the participants.

Clause 16 of the Commonwealth Charter cites “… the important role that civil society plays in our communities and countries as partners in promoting and supporting Commonwealth values and principles, including the freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and in achieving development goals.” This explicit recognition of civil society in the Charter indicates its significance for the reform and renewal of the Commonwealth.

In turn, civil society organisations recognise the pivotal role that the Secretary-General has in enabling its fullest participation in Commonwealth processes. It is for this reason that all four candidates were invited to share their vision for the Commonwealth and civil society’s place in that.

This is the first opportunity that all of the candidates had to appear on the same platform, which was made available to a global audience through a live stream of the event.


Watch the event

Delegates of the Commonwealth People’s Forum and other attendees of the CHOGM 2015 were invited to attend the dialogue at the House of Representatives, Valletta, Malta.

A live stream of the event was recorded and is available on the Malta Parliament website.


The candidates

Baroness Patricia Scotalnd

Baroness Patricia Scotland was born in Dominica in 1955, then moved with her family to Britain. She obtained her LLB in 1976, was called to the Bar in 1977 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1991. She received a life peerage and was created Baroness Scotland of Asthal in 1997. Baroness Scotland has held the position of Attorney General (2007 to 2010), Minister of State (Home Office) (Crime Reduction) (2007 to 2007), Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) (2003 to 2007), and Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor’s Department) (2001 to 2003) in government.

Mrs Masire Mwamba

Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba was born in Botswana in 1960. She served two terms as Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat from 2008-2014 where she was responsible for senior oversight of the political, human rights, legal and youth portfolio of the Secretariat’s work. Mrs Masire-Mwamba was previously CEO at the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority and Assistant Engineer to the Group Manager, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation. Her academic qualifications include a BSC in Electronics and Physics and an MBA in International Business plus a Bachelor of Laws Degree.


Sir Ronald Sanders was born in Guyana in 1948. He is currently Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organisation of American States. He is also High Commissioner for Antigua and Barbuda to the United Kingdom – a post he has held twice before (1983-1987 and 1995-2004). Sir Ronald was a member of the 2010 Eminent Persons Group on Commonwealth reform and was formerly Ambassador to the World Trade Organization. An international business consultant and writer, Sir Ronald holds a MA in International Relations. He was knighted by the Queen in 2002.