Members of the Executive Committee with the Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland, in 2017
The Commonwealth Association (CA) is one of about 80 organisations which are accredited to the Commonwealth and is able to leverage on the whole network and remain at the forefront of Commonwealth matters. Worthy of note are its links with the Round Table (including co-sponsoring some events of relevance to Members); attending the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s quarterly dialogue with Accredited Organisations and as well, events hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Partnerships Office; and as a member of the Independent Forum of Commonwealth Organisations (IFCO).
The Round Table is a forum for Commonwealth debate and advocacy. It organises seminars and conferences on a regular basis. It works closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat and Foundation and with a range of other Commonwealth organisations. It focuses on issues currently attracting the Commonwealth’s attention (e.g., Decolonisation, Media Freedom) and also subjects of a more enduring nature – such as Using the Past to develop a Commonwealth future. It also publishes The Round Table, an authoritative journal which provides analysis and commentary on international affairs affecting the contemporary Commonwealth, including policy, themes of historical interest and topical issues.
The Independent Forum of Commonwealth Organisations (IFCO) meets frequently and brings together representatives of Commonwealth Accredited Organisations to develop policy ideas for consideration at the Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM), and for prospective endorsement in the Communique issued when the Meeting ends. It drafts submissions to the Commonwealth’s Committee of the Whole on selected themes of the CHOGMs. Before CHOGM 21 (Rwanda) was postponed, the Commonwealth Secretariat appointed IFCO leads for the individual themes. The Commonwealth Association was able to play a key role in drafting the submission on Sustainability, Economic Growth and Trade.
In 2015, a reformed approach was adopted to the traditional interaction between accredited Commonwealth organisations and senior representatives of Commonwealth member governments. This interaction occurs on the eve of the meeting of the Commonwealth’s Committee of the Whole (CoW). This change was intended to strengthen the relevance of the contributions made by accredited organisations before the Communiqué of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is developed through intergovernmental discussion.
IFCO also orchestrates various initiatives e.g., recent successful campaign to stop closure of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.
The Institute of Commonwealth Studies is the only postgraduate academic institution in the United Kingdom devoted to the study of the Commonwealth. The Institute is a national and international centre of excellence for policy-relevant research, research facilitation and teaching. It has a wide range of resources available to support research related to the contemporary and historical Commonwealth, the history of the empire and colonial legacies.
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