What do we mean by ‘good offices’?
The term ‘good offices’ refers to the conflict prevention and resolution work carried out in Commonwealth countries. Our ongoing engagement with member countries helps us identify early indicators of conflict and looks at ways in which conflict and its symptoms can be prevented or, if conflict emerges, how it can be resolved.
What are the Secretariat’s goals in this area?
Our short-term goal is to promote political dialogue amongst relevant parties in order to defuse tension. Our long-term goal is to address the underlying causes of conflict. For example, in the aftermath of the Kenyan elections in 2007 we signed a MoU with UNDP to support the government of Kenya address long term issues concerning constitutional and electoral reforms, and technical institutional development support to work towards addressing historical inequalities.
How do we approach countries?
We approach countries through the good offices of the Commonwealth Secretary General. Engagements are often led by Special Envoys and include provision of technical assistance and policy advice with an emphasis on removing sources of conflict and strengthening peace through the sharing of best practice across the Commonwealth.
What do we mean by a ‘Special Envoy’?
A Special Envoy is a special representative of the Secretary-General. He/she is not an employee of the Commonwealth Secretariat, but an eminent Commonwealth person, often a former Head of State or Government, or a former senior Minister.
The role of Special Envoys is primarily to open doors, remove bottlenecks and generally foster greater democratic space by facilitating political dialogue among political actors and civil society. In particular, Special Envoys aid in the development and implementation of political agreements in situations of crisis or potential conflict.
What do we mean by a strategic partner?
A strategic partner is an interested party, individual or organisation, which shares common objectives, and is able to work with the Commonwealth to achieve our short and long-term goals in countries of engagement.
What do we mean by a government institution?
Government institutions are departments which offer public services, such as government Ministries, the police force, and electoral bodies.
How do we measure progress?
We conduct frequent assessments with the help of civil society, other partners and the member governments concerned.