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What is CHOGM?

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What is CHOGM?

CHOGM stands for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Every two years Commonwealth leaders meet to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and agree collective policies and initiatives. CHOGMs act as the principal policy and decision-making forum to guide the strategic direction of the association. They are organised by the host nation in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat.

After a formal opening ceremony and a formal Executive Session, the leaders meet privately in a ‘Retreat’ setting. The atmosphere is informal, encouraging a full and frank exchange of views, and decisions are reached by consensus.

Issues discussed at previous CHOGMS include international peace and security, democracy, climate change, multilateral trade issues, good governance, sustainable development, small states, debt management, education, environment, gender equality, health, human rights, information and communication technology, and youth affairs.

Where and when was the first CHOGM?

In Singapore, in 1971, the term Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was adopted to encompass both Presidents and Prime Ministers. Since then, CHOGMs have taken place on a biennial basis.

Where and when is CHOGM 2013 taking place?

Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 15 to 17 November 2013

Where and when did CHOGM 2011 take place?

Perth, Australia, from 28 to 30 October 2011

What was the theme for CHOGM 2011?

Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience.

Who is the current Chairperson-in-Office?

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia. He will hold this position until CHOGM 2013.

What does the Chairperson-in-Office do?

The position of Chairperson-in-Office was created at the 1999 CHOGM in South Africa. Heads of Government believed that the Chairperson of each CHOGM should be able to play a representational role, especially in other intergovernmental organisations, in the period between Heads of Government Meetings. At the 2002 Coolum CHOGM, Heads further said that the Chairperson-in-Office could reinforce the Good Offices role of the Secretary-General and contribute to strategic advocacy of Commonwealth positions in high-level international forums.

What is the Commonwealth Mace?

The Commonwealth Mace was a gift of the Royal Anniversary Trust to HM The Queen in her role as the Head of the Commonwealth, on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of her accession to the throne. The Mace is surmounted by the Royal Coat of Arms and by the Commonwealth symbol and, in its middle portion, contains the enamelled flags of each of the Commonwealth nations.

The Mace is used:

  • in the presence of HM The Queen or an immediate member of the Royal Family representing the Head of the Commonwealth;

  • at Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings and on special Commonwealth occasions; 

  • at the annual multi-faith Observance on Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey; and 

  • at the Commonwealth Day evening reception hosted by the Secretary-General.

There is also a matching set of 55 silver gilt toasting Goblets each engraved with the respective member government’s national armorial bearings. The Goblets are used at the banquet hosted by the Queen for Heads of Government at CHOGMs.

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