The Office of Commonwealth Secretary-General

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


It is generally agreed that the executive heads of international organisations not only play a dominant role inside their secretariats but can also exert a powerful influence on the organisation as a whole. They can make significant inputs to policy formulation, they largely control policy implementation, and overall they contribute positively — or negatively — to the organisation’s image in both member and non-member states. The leadership role played by Dag Hammarskjöld in the United Nations between 1956 and 1961 comes readily to mind; more recently it became clear that for western governments Mr. M’Bow’s Director-Generalship of UNESCO was a major factor in producing a poor image of the agency’s efficiency and impartiality.1


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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Harold K. Jacobson, Networks of Interdependence, 2nd edn (New York: Knopf, 1984) 121.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Cf. Michael Schechter, ‘Leadership in International Organizations’, Review of International Studies, Vol. 13, 3 (1987) 197–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 4.
    For instance, the first Secretary-General of NATO was appointed in 1952. See R. S. Jordan and P. W. Newman, ‘The Secretary-General of NATO and multinational political leadership’, International Journal, Vol. 30, 4 (1975), 732–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 6.
    Beyond the Nation-State: functionalism and international organization. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1964). See too Robert W. Cox, ‘The Executive Head…’, International Organization, Vol. 23, 2 (1969) 205–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 11.
    Cf. Dag Hammarskjöld’s Oxford University lecture ‘The International Civil Servant in Law and in Fact’ in Wilder Foote (ed.), Servant of Peace: a selection of the speeches and statements of Dag Hammarskjöld (New York: Harper & Row, 1963) 329–49: See too Hammarskjöld’s Introduction to the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization, June 1961, General Assembly Official Records (16th Session), Supp. No. 1A., 1961.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    A. Smith with Clyde Sanger, Stitches in Time (Don Mills, Ont.: General Publishing, 1981) 36.Google Scholar
  7. 15.
    The Prime Minister of Malaysia, as senior Commonwealth Head of Government, took soundings and reported that 25 heads of government approved, one did not, and two were undecided. R. Leach, ‘The Secretariat’, International Journal, Vol. 26, 2 (1971) 390, n. 35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 21.
    Nicholas A. Sims, ‘Commonwealth and United Nations’ in Sims (ed.), Explorations in Ethics and International Relations (London: Croom Helm, 1981) 152.Google Scholar
  9. 26.
    Cf. J. S. Nye ‘UNCTAD: poor nations’ pressure group’ in R. W. Cox and H. Jacobson (eds), The Anatomy of Influence (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974). Nye summarises Prebisch’s strategy: to set out and dramatise the problem; to permit governmental discussion and controversy; and to move to achievement through ‘brokerage’ tactics of the Secretariat (367–8).Google Scholar
  10. See too O. Schachter, ‘The International Civil Servant…’ in R. S. Jordan (ed.), Dag Hammarskjöld Revisited (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1983) 59–61.Google Scholar
  11. 27.
    Stephen Chan, ‘The Commonwealth World View’ in Third World Quarterly, Vol. 8, 1 (1986) 356. Chan was a staff member of the secretariat from 1977 to 1983.Google Scholar
  12. 36.
    Cf. Sir William Dale, The Modern Commonwealth (London: Butterworth, 1983) 38. The Queen is Head of State in Britain and 16 other Commonwealth countries.Google Scholar
  13. 43.
    R. H. Leach, ‘The Secretariat’, International Journal, Vol. 26, 2 (1987) 390–1.Google Scholar
  14. 50.
    International Commission on International Development Issues: North-South: a program for survival (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1980). Chan records that ‘the Commission in the closing stages of report-writing, ensconced its own secretariat in Commonwealth Secretariat offices’, loc. cit. in n. 27 above, 358.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Margaret P. Doxey 1989

Authors and Affiliations

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

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